CHIEF RICK BRANDT | Evans, CO
I remind them that they took an oath to protect life. Naloxone does just that.
I’m Chief Rick Brandt. I’ve worked in law enforcement for over 40 years. Currently, I’m serving as the Chief of Police in Evans, CO.
I always knew I wanted to help people, and I thought the best way to do that would be as a police officer. My journey in law enforcement started in Aurora, CO, where I started as a regular officer and eventually worked my way up through the ranks.
Over the years, my attitudes toward addiction, incarceration, and rehabilitation have changed. My father struggled with addiction, and I couldn’t understand why he didn’t give it up. But a few things happened to me along the way. First, I was given a prescription for opioids after surgery and after just a few days, I could feel cravings. That was really eye-opening and helped me understand how addiction can begin for some people. More importantly though, I saw how locking people up for their addictions wasn’t helping them on the individual level and wasn’t having an impact on the larger community or the addiction crisis.
So, I dedicated my career and my energy toward shifting attitudes within police departments, encouraging policy change, and educating people on how to combat the opioid crisis. I’m a big proponent of a co-responder program. Rather than sending an officer alone, we advocate for sending someone who works in mental health or the recovery field along with the officer to respond to calls where a mental health resource might be needed. These professionals can offer resources and treatment options that can lead to real change rather than incarceration. I’m also a big supporter of offering programs to provide treatment using medications for opioid use disorder in jails, giving people the opportunity to access treatment so they can start fresh when they are released. Lastly, I’m an advocate for supplying first responders, especially police officers, with naloxone. Naloxone is a life-saving opioid overdose reversal medication. Law enforcement professionals often arrive first on the scene of an overdose. Putting this medication in officers’ hands can save someone’s life. Some people in the policing community resist this. They have a mindset of, “why am I saving someone who makes such risky decisions over and over?” To those folks, I remind them that they took an oath to protect life. Naloxone does just that. You can save their life and give someone a chance to find recovery.