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September 30, 2022, 5:18 PM

NYPD, both current and former, slam NYC Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán and Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani for overdose tip sheet

By Michael Gartland

Pat Lynch slams pols’ attempt to eliminate NYPD response to overdose emergencies

A public safety tip sheet released by Councilwoman Tiffany Cabán (D-Astoria) and Assemblyman Zohran Mamdani (D-Queens) has critics questioning their recommendation against using the word “overdose” on 911 calls for fear of attracting the cops.

The tip sheet, which the two Queens politicians labeled as “Small Business Public Safety Resources,” was posted Tuesday by Cabán on Twitter.

Under a heading devoted to drug overdoses and drug-related issues, it states that in medical emergencies one should not use the word overdose when calling 911, but instead use the words “not responsive” and “not breathing” to ensure that “medical help only” respond to the call.

“Tell the operator that the person is not responsive and not breathing,” the tip sheet states. “Do not mention a possible overdose! This will ensure the call is prioritized and should result in medical help only.”

The flier comes amid increased calls to shift certain responsibilities — such as responding to calls about emotionally disturbed people — away from the NYPD and to others like EMTs, health care workers and social workers in the hopes of avoiding unnecessary confrontations with police.

But critics of this most recent example of directing calls away from the cops say the tip sheet is misguided.

“To avoid death and minimize brain injury, every second counts during an opioid overdose, and police throughout New York State have consistently responded to overdose calls faster than EMS,” said Brandon del Pozo, an assistant professor of medicine at Brown University and a retired NYPD deputy inspector.

Del Pozo was pointing specifically to research published this year in the Harm Reduction Journal, which found in nearly 86% of cases police in New York State responded to the scene of a suspected overdose before medics.

He also stressed that cops should limit their OD responses to strictly that, and should avoid checking for outstanding warrants on people dealing with an overdose.

“Officers have no business checking for warrants or making arrests during these life-and-death medical emergencies,” he added. “Policies need to reflect that, but an elected official telling her constituents to deliberately deceive 911 so police won’t be dispatched to an overdose is reckless and may cost lives.”

Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch also criticized Cabán and Mamdani for the tip sheet.

“I don’t understand why elected officials would put their anti-police ideology ahead of saving a life. Nearly every New York City police officer on patrol carries and is trained to use naloxone,” he said referring to the medication used to help reverse overdoses. “We’ve used it to save lives almost 400 times in the last year alone.”

Lynch also honed in on response time as part of his critique of the flier.

“Cops are often the first units to respond to a life-threatening medical emergency because we’re not stationary — we’re already on patrol in our neighborhoods and might be just a block away,” he said. “When we get there, our first priority is to render aid. Why would they want to reduce an overdose victim’s chances of survival by trying to keep cops away?”

Cabán declined to answer specific questions about the tip sheet, but her spokesman Jesse Myerson did not contest the premise that she and Mamdani’s intent was to avoid alerting the police to overdoses.

“The best way for small business owners to ensure that someone experiencing an overdose receives immediate medical attention is for them to get trained on administering naloxone and keeping a supply handy themselves,” Cabán said in a written statement. “That’s why we made that the first recommendation on our small business poster.”

Mamdani did not immediately respond to messages.