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News Briefs: HOPE Act sees bipartisan support; two arraigned on drug, firearm charges

Pignatelli was inspired to file the HOPE Act after hearing the story of a young man who overdosed and passed away in the presence of a police officer while waiting for a dose of Narcan to arrive on the scene.

Pignatelli’s HOPE Act to fight drug addiction overdoses receives major bipartisan support

Boston — Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli, D-Lenox, announced Thursday that his newly filed bill to combat the opioid epidemic in Massachusetts has gained widespread bipartisan support from 93 representatives and senators, almost half of the Massachusetts Legislature.

HD.1136, “An Act helping overdosing persons in emergencies,” otherwise known as the HOPE Act, aims to provide hope to those suffering from addiction by ensuring all first responders, including firefighters and police officers, are equipped with opioid antagonists approved by the Department of Public Health while on duty.

The bill, broken into three sections, mandates that all local and state police officers, firefighters and first responders are trained to administrator an opioid antagonist as part of their required first aid training and further directs government entities and organizations to equip their first responders with an opioid antagonist while on duty.

“As I researched this issue, I discovered that policies in regards to administering Narcan and other opioid antagonists are very different from community to community, even right here in the Berkshires. This bill would ensure consistency across the board training on the administration of Narcan,” said Pignatelli. “DPH has outlined an approved training that is already being carried out, and the Massachusetts State Police and officers from major metropolitan areas across the state are already trained and equipped with Narcan. It’s up to us to plug in the existing holes.”

Pignatelli was inspired to file the HOPE Act after hearing the story of a young man who overdosed and passed away in the presence of a police officer while waiting for a dose of Narcan to arrive on the scene. Introduced jointly with Sen. Joan Lovely, D-Salem, this bipartisan piece of legislation has gained support from major members, including House Minority Leader Rep. Brad Jones, R-North Reading.

According to an article written by Haven Orecchio-Egresitz in the Berkshire Eagle, opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts have dropped 4 percent—but addiction specialists warn that drug use is still devastating families throughout Berkshire County.

Due to existing concerns of certain officers and departments cautious of liability issues, Pignatelli’s bill includes the ‘good Samaritan’ protection language included in last year’s opioid legislation, safeguarding laymen using Narcan while assisting overdosing persons, to further protect first responders administering an opioid antagonist in good faith.

The HOPE Act leaves room for advancements to be made by specifying that only a DPH-approved opioid antagonist be carried, in case something more effective than Narcan exists in the near future.

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Two arraigned in Superior Court on drug and firearm charges

Pittsfield — Two persons faced firearm and drug charges Tuesday in Berkshire County Superior Court.

Isaiah J. Calderon, 22, of Holyoke was arraigned on the charges of illegal possession of a firearm (second offense), illegal possession of heroin with intent to distribute, armed career felon, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. The charges stem from a traffic stop that Pittsfield police officers made Nov. 10, 2018. Berkshire Assistant District Attorney Kyle Christensen prosecuted the case.

Calderon was held on $10,000 bail. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 7.

Arraigned in a separate case Tuesday was Kacey Caprari, 38, of North Adams. She was charged with trafficking in heroin; trafficking in cocaine; illegal possession of a firearm; possession of a firearm during commission of a felony; improper storage of a firearm, rifle or shotgun; and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.

Police arrested Caprari Jan. 18 while executing a search of a home in North Adams. On Tuesday, she was ordered held on $15,000 bail. Assistant District Attorney Jedd L. Hall prosecuted the case. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Thursday, June 20.

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