A 43-year-old Moose Jaw man is now facing drugs charges after being revived from an overdose but did the Regina Police Service get it right?
After an inquiry by Global Saskatoon, it turns out the federal crown had similar questions about the case and whether a new law would shelter him from subsequent charges.
Charges that stem from an incident on Sunday, September 3rd at approximately 8:58 in the morning when police were dispatched to a hotel on east Victoria Avenue.
There they found 43-year-old Randal Ross Rochat in extreme medical distress and suffering from a suspect drug overdose.
Paramedics rushed him to Regina General Hospital, Rochat survived and at 11:30 that same morning he was charged with drug possession. This, after police conducted an investigation and located drugs in his room.
Rochat is now to appear in Regina Provincial Court on Wednesday, October 11th.
An inquiry by Global Saskatoon was made as to why he wasn’t protected by the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which means he never would have been charged in the first place.
The Regina Police Service says the federal crown reached out as well and is now reviewing the file.
“Our members were briefed again on the importance of the changes, what those changes were and hopefully we won’t have this situation again,” said Deputy Chief Dean Rae with RPS.
This is the first time the service has encountered a case of this nature where the legislation may apply, added Rae.
In Saskatoon, there have been at least two occasions where lives have been saved because of the protection this law provides.
“The person that was suffering from the overdose, they just need help so they got the help they needed,” said Supt. Dave Haye with the Saskatoon Police Service.
On May 4th, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act became law across the country as opioid deaths continue to climb. According to both forces each and every member would have been informed of the change and in Saskatoon’s case patrol members were given presentations.
“The Good Samaritan Act protects the victim of the overdose or the people assisting them from being charged with possession or certain criminal offences or breach of a court order.”
The same immunity is not applied to drug trafficking and in many cases officers have a few avenues they can turn to if there is any confusion about whether charges should be laid.
“They can consult with the supervisor at the scene, we have sergeants working 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year they are more experienced police officers,” said Supt. Haye.
“They have the option of calling directly to an on-call member from the Saskatoon Integrated Drug Enforcement Street team – the drug unit so there’s an online member there who can always provide advice.”
Moving forward, the Regina Police Service says it will be providing members of its force with more education during block training in 2018.
“We have a large organization of over 500 members, about 400 sworn members so sometimes that communication doesn’t flow as smoothly as we’d like and we’re committed to making sure that our members are up to speed on all the changes – as best we can,” Rae stressed.