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Report: Minneapolis cops urged EMS to sedate subjects

The report says in multiple instances, the ketamine caused heart or breathing failure and suspects had to be revived.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A city report shows Minneapolis police officers have repeatedly requested that Hennepin County medical responders sedate people with ketamine, a tranquilizer known as the "date rape drug."

The report obtained by the Star Tribune says in multiple instances, the ketamine caused heart or breathing failure and suspects had to be revived. The report says the injections sometimes happened when suspects were restrained.

The investigation by the Office of Police Conduct Review found the number of documented ketamine injections during Minneapolis police calls increased from three in 2012 to 62 last year.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo says the report changed his department's approach. As the report was being completed last month, Cmdr. Todd Sauvageau issued a departmental order saying sedation decisions need to be made by EMS personnel, not officers.

Here is Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo's response:

Today a local media outlet published an article regarding MPD Officers and their actions during calls for service involving hospital EMS personnel. The information released was based on a draft report created by the Office of Police Conduct Review. It is important to know that this report was not complete and devoid of any input from medical personnel.

This draft report focused on MPD Officers’ suggestions and recommendations to EMS personnel regarding the use of the drug ketamine on members of the community.

The MPD is committed to our procedural justice service to our community.

We give voice, respect, build spaces of trust and are neutral in our engagements. A portion of the draft report contained elements regarding language and statements made by some MPD officers that do not reflect our core values. When this matter was brought to my attention, I took immediate steps and made a policy change prohibiting Officers from making medical suggestions or recommendations to EMS staff through both policy and administrative announcement.

Releasing the contents from this draft report before its completion was irresponsible.

There are significant faults with this draft report, and recklessly disseminating it to our communities is a disservice to those who not only rely upon receiving accurate information – but also put their trust in our police services. This inaccurate draft report has the potential to tarnish much of the good work the men and women of the MPD, as well as our medical partners, do every day and night to save lives in our city.

There are thousands of medical-related calls that MPD Officers respond to along with our medical partners in our city every year. There are countless lives that are saved because of the professionalism and life-saving skills and treatment that they provide.

When the OPCR final report is complete, it will be made available to the public for review.

This is important and something I strongly believe in. It is also my hope that the media outlet that released this incomplete draft report will be responsible enough to correct the record to reflect the true facts in this matter.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released this statement:

While all Medical decisions highlighted in the draft report were made by hospital medical professionals, it was necessary to make clear that our police are not to comment or provide input, other than relevant factual information, while engaging with EMS and hospital professionals.

As soon as I was made aware of the draft report I took action to make this rule clear through policy change. The draft report is exactly that – a draft. And we still need to gather relevant information from medical professionals on medical related issues to get a full picture.

I recognize that our MPD officers are often the first called to a scene, including for individuals experiencing severe emotional distress. Last year alone, they responded to thousands of such calls. Outcomes of these calls are dependent on a range of factors, and sometimes they result in the need for assistance from medical professionals or even hospitalization.

But at the end of the day, our policy should be clear: Cops should not direct medical professionals on health related issues, and medical professionals should not take those directives from cops.

Hennepin Healthcare's Chief Ambulatory Officer, Kelly Spratt, offered the following statement to KARE 11:

Our first priority is the safe care of our patients. Paramedics are dedicated to providing the best care possible and our physicians continue to conduct research to improve the care for profoundly agitated people who are at risk of metabolic acidosis (exhausting themselves to death) or who otherwise pose a risk to themselves or others.

We only recently saw a copy of the draft report and met with the city yesterday to express concerns about what we believe are significant inaccuracies.

We were not consulted as this report was written, so we are now reviewing the cases that involve Hennepin EMS. We believe the draft report contains data that is private and, as we assess that, we won’t respond to questions about specific cases cited in the report. We have reviewed the four cases mentioned in the draft report that involve use of ketamine by Hennepin EMS and have concluded that those met the protocol and were medically justified.

While they are a very small percentage of the 81,000 calls Hennepin EMS responds to each year, encounters such as those discussed in the draft report are difficult and that is why physicians have been conducting research on the use of various medications in these situations.

Ketamine has been used by EMS here since 2008. It is used by EMS services across Minnesota and the nation. It is one of several drugs that is used for profoundly agitated people who are at risk of metabolic acidosis or who otherwise pose a risk to themselves or others.

The study that we are currently conducting to compare ketamine to other drugs was approved following review by an independent Institutional Review Board (IRB) which protects and safeguards the rights of all subjects participating in the study that we have been engaged in and it followed proper notification protocols. It is one in a long line of studies in sedation that have been conducted here and by other researchers to improve health outcomes for our patients. We continue to study its use because evidence shows that ketamine has fewer side effects than the other drugs and can ultimately save lives.

HCMC officials also held a news conference on Friday in response to the report.

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