Windsor police chief softens stance on supervised injection sites

Windsor police chief Al Frederick has softened his stance on supervised injection sites after attending a Canada-U.S. roundtable on opioids.

Al Frederick along with two health care professionals from Windsor attended a Canada-U.S. opioid roundtable

Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick says he heard during the roundtable of other police chiefs who have also changed their stance on supervised injection sites. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Windsor police chief Al Frederick said in May this year that the force wouldn't support an application for a provincially-funded, temporary supervised injection site to the city's core.

But that has changed after he attended a Canada-U.S. roundtable on opioids in Washington D.C.

"It is evolving," said Frederick. "And I can tell you some of the chiefs that spoke said exactly that. They said even a year ago, they wouldn't say what I'm saying today."

However, he still emphasized the importance of ensuring the community is safe even with the presence of a supervised injection site.

At the roundtable, Frederick heard about evidence-based approach to addressing the opioid crisis across North America. It was a one-day brainstorming of ideas attended by politicians, health care professionals, academics, law enforcement and community members.

Also in attendance were Andrea Steen, family physician and chief of staff at Hotel Dieu Grace Healthcare, and Anne Snowdon, academic chair of the World Health Innovation Network.

A doctor, a professor and a police chief. It may sound like the start of a nursery rhyme but what they have on their minds is not child's play. They'll be here to talk about the opioid crisis, and tackling it from all angles. They're just back from a conference in Washington, DC and they'll tell us what they learned 17:01

Snowdon said they need to work on removing the stigma.

"Most importantly, we heard a lot of extremely compelling stories from those who have been down the road of addiction have been able to recover, and want to be part of the solution," she said.

According to Snowdon, there should be ways to offer the help people need, "when and where they need it."

What that could potentially look like is using the police station as a portal to health care.

Frederick said he's heard of one law enforcement agency in the U.S. that day where officers can help get people into the health care system.

However, the community supports need to be in place for Windsor police to be able to make that "real-time" response happen.

"From what I understand, the addiction is so strong that they're seeking the drug every day. The support has to be immediate."