By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – Manitoba RCMP officers are getting added protection to minimize exposure to powerful opioids.
Justice Minister Heather Stefanson says just over 1,000 front-line officers will get respiratory and eye protection for cases when they might be dealing with opioids like fentanyl.
The extra equipment will cost $54,000 and will come from the province’s criminal property forfeiture fund.
“Funding will also help ensure officers working in remote detachments have access to this respiratory equipment,” she said at RCMP headquarters in Winnipeg Friday.
Fentanyl — which is 100 times more powerful than heroin — poses a serious risk to officers when they respond to calls for assistance and this equipment will help them take the necessary precautions, she said.
RCMP officers already carry the antidote, naloxone, to counter opioid overdoses.
Assistant Commissioner Scott Kolody, with Manitoba RCMP, said reducing the risk of fentanyl exposure is a priority for the force.
“An officer on the street, on the front line, can run into a scenario whereby they could be arresting somebody and there could be substances there. Today, it’s just very difficult to detect exactly what it is until further analysis is done,” he said.
“The funds announced today will be critical to ensuring all our officers are equipped with the best possible protection.”
The criminal forfeiture fund comes from the confiscation of property, cash and other goods linked to criminal activity. Police forces can draw on the fund for new equipment and training.
Manitoba RCMP are getting around $382,000 from the fund this year for equipment including radar guns and licence plate readers. More than $16.5 million in assets have been forfeited to Manitoba since 2010.
— With files from CJOB