Diorio, police publicize Good Samaritan drug law

On April 10 and 11, Principal Kim Diorio and school resource officers Detective DuJuan Green and Officer Ben Lee visited senior social science classes to speak with students about several significant topics currently relevant on Palo Alto High School campus.

Although the primary focuses of the discussions seemed to be streaking and the consequences streakers could face, the officers additionally touched on issues of drug usage and alcohol consumption. Within the brief talk on narcotics, Green and Lee highlighted a California Assembly Bill, which amended the Health and Safety Code in 2012.

Assembly Bill Number 472 (AB-472) amended the Health and Safety Code by providing the following statement: “[It shall] not be a crime for a person who experiences a drug-related overdose and who is in need of medical assistance to be under the influence of, or to possess for personal use, a controlled substance, controlled substance analog, or drug paraphernalia, if the person or one or more other persons at the scene of the overdose, in good faith, seek medical assistance for the person experiencing the overdose.”

AB-472, deemed by some the “Good Samaritan” bill, provides legal immunity for those overdosing on a drug and those reporting a peer’s overdosing to the police. In simpler terms, if two people are experimenting with a drug and one overdoses,  the other could dial 9-1-1 and call for medical assistance without getting either of them in trouble. Although AB-472 was implemented over a year ago, Green and Lee felt it would be appropriate to re-address the policy.

“My partner Ben Lee and I spent two days speaking with Paly seniors regarding a variety of topics: under-aged drinking, smoking, drug use and  reasonable suspicion,” Green said. “During the presentations, a comment was made and I was reminded of [AB-472]. [AB-472] was relevant and made sense, especially in light of what recently occurred with a Paly senior.”

Green, who also serves as a detective agent and Paly’s school resource officer, believes this law will protect students in the community.

“My personal thoughts on the bill are this: whatever it takes to make people safe,” Green said. “While I don’t agree with drug use — I know from training and police experience that drug use is bad news — I don’t want to see people getting hurt over using [drugs] when help could have been called. This bill is beneficial for Paly students and the community overall. It is about saving lives and getting people help.”

Senior Travis Chen applauds AB-472 as well as the officers for publicizing the bill.

“I think [publicizing AB-472] is a brilliant idea,” Chen said. “People will be more encouraged to protect their friends’ lives instead of trying to escape the cops.”

Chen notes that although there is a small possibility that “people might see this law as an excuse to be more risky with respect to drug usage since they know they can call the cops,” he believes that the “benefits heavily outweigh the costs.”

Tom, an anonymous junior, is satisfied with the law and explains that had he and his friends known about it earlier, they could have avoided many dangerous situations.

“I feel like this is a super important law to be aware of,” Tom said. “I’ve been there — I’ve put people in situations [in which] they’ve had to sacrifice their night just to go through the struggle of making sure I didn’t die. It doesn’t feel good.”

Tom believes AB-472 allows police to aid inebriated citizens in unsafe times.

“When someone’s in a position where they’re too intoxicated to take care of themselves, anything could happen,” Tom said. “Just in case there is no reliable friend, car or adult, I think it is absolutely vital to have a support system such as this one, where the police offer help through smart policies.”