To identify the extent of public safety-led overdose prevention efforts and corollary training for public safety personnel that are tailored for BIPOC communities, the National Council, with support from the CDC, conducted an environmental scan consisting of a literature review, 11 key informant interviews, and two roundtable discussions with a diverse group of individuals with experience in overdose prevention, harm reduction or public safety.
Individuals, communities, and health care systems across the country are struggling to cope with the ongoing overdose epidemic, which is having a disproportionate impact on communities of color. In 2020, drug overdose deaths rose 29.4%, including 69,710 deaths involving opioids.
Public safety personnel (police, law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians) are often the first on the scene for overdose emergencies; however, the skills required to respond to these situations are not acquired through traditional public safety trainings. Although some public safety agencies have implemented overdose prevention programs, few take into consideration the unique needs of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, and even fewer are trained on engaging with BIPOC communities around substance use and overdose prevention.
Public Safety-led Community-oriented Overdose Prevention Efforts (PS-COPE) is a new approach to overdose prevention and response for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. It combines three proven models to enhance overdose prevention and response: trauma-informed care, recovery-oriented systems of care and procedural justice. Details of this new approach are outlined in the PS-COPE Concept Paper: A New Approach to Overdose Prevention and Response in Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Communities. Tips, resources and tools for implementing PS-COPE can be found in the PS-COPE Toolkit.
For more information, please contact Emma Amoako at EmmaA@thenationalcouncil.org.
This work is supported by the CDC of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $300,000 with 100% funding by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by CDC/HHS, or the U.S. Government.