Date of Award
© 2020 Michael Ziarnowski
Doctor of Education (EdD)
The number of drug overdose deaths in the United States from opioids has led to national attention about the problem commonly described as the “opioid epidemic.” Federal and state policymakers have shifted from a hardline punitive approach to a rehabilitative approach in an attempt to save lives. Good Samaritan Laws (GSLs) and advances in medicine have been implemented differently in different states. For example, the enactment of the New Jersey Overdose Prevention Act (NJOPA) and the use of naloxone by first responders are ways that state officials try to save lives. However, there is limited research on the first responders’ experiences, specifically the police officers’ experiences, who administer naloxone and follow the NJOPA. Therefore, the purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to understand the lived experience of police officers who have responded to a drug overdose call, and administered naloxone since the passing of the NJOPA and identify common themes among those experiences. Two research questions guided this study: (1) Are there common lived experiences of police officers who responded to a drug overdose call since the passing of the NJOPA? (2) How do police officers describe their workplace/procedures following the implementation of the NJOPA? Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 police officers who administered naloxone to a drug overdose victim since the passing of the NJOPA. Data analysis followed Moustakas’ (1994) three step process: Epoche, Transcendental-Phenomenological Reduction, and Imaginative Variation. Five themes emerged from this study: (1) NJOPA and naloxone; (2) change in police procedures; (3) relationship between police officers’ attitudes and their years of service; (4) factors that change the experience of an overdose call; (5) police officers and overdose victims after an overdose call. Results showed that, although each police officer’s experience is unique at a drug overdose scene, common themes were shared among them such as attitudes towards the victim, perceived attitudes from the victim, opinions on the NJOPA, workplace and overdose environment similarities, and the overall effectiveness of naloxone. Recommendations to policymakers and police chiefs include funding for preassembled naloxone, not allowing a victim to refuse medical attention (RMA), repercussions of some kind to the victim (but not incarceration), informing the public about the NJOPA, training in the police academy, and annual professional development training.
Ziarnowski, Michael, "New Jersey Overdose Prevention Act: Police Officers’ Experiences At A Drug Overdose Scene" (2020). All Theses And Dissertations. 310.