Enforcement vs. Social Work: The Balance for Police Officers Encountering Substance Abuse
By Adam Durnham
For today's police officers, the unfortunate everyday reality is the high likelihood of encountering substance abuse during calls. Some calls might involve coming on the scene of an accident caused by a drunk driver while others might involve someone disturbing the peace or being drunk and disorderly. Still other times, officers might be the first on scene following an overdose.
Responding to calls that involve substance abuse can be difficult for officers, who often have to balance their own personal safety and mental health, enforcing the laws, and responding compassionately to those affected, including any children on scene. However, the question remains – what is the right balance for officers so that recovery is promoted, rather than victimization and criminalization when responding to substance abuse calls?