A recent report revealed Minneapolis Police Department repeatedly pushed Hennepin County medical responders to sedate people with powerful tranquilizer ketamine, which is also known as a "date rape drug."
The draft obtained by the Star Tribune gave disturbing details of how officers over the past years have repeatedly requested the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers to administer ketamine to people, even in cases where the subjects resisted being drugged or when no crime was actually being committed.
The individuals who were forcefully drugged even had to be intubated at times to regain consciousness as ketamine reportedly caused breathing or heart failure.
The findings came to light after an investigation by the Office of Police Conduct Review found the number of documented tranquilizers used during Minneapolis police calls observed an increase from three in 2012 to 62 last year.
"Between 2016 and 2017, MPD officers explicitly asked EMS to provide ketamine, either when calling for EMS services or upon arrival of the ambulance eight times," the report said.
However, Hennepin EMS Medical Director Jon Cole and Minnesota Poison Control System Medical Director Jeffrey Ho disregarded the report's findings as a "reckless use of anecdotes" to draw unsubstantiated conclusions.
Nevertheless, the revelation led to a policy change in city's police department, according to Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. Officers were ordered not to demand EMS to sedate a subject as such decisions could only be made by medical personnel.
"We have that in place now," said Arradondo. "That policy really defines and clarifies that we do not want our officers providing recommendations or suggestions to EMS personnel."
According to the Hennepin Healthcare Department’s decade-long policy, staff members are only authorized to use the drug when a patient is "profoundly agitated” or can harm themselves.
But the nightmarish report found in several occasions the individual being detained "was not only handcuffed, but strapped down on a stretcher in an ambulance before receiving ketamine."
In one case, Minneapolis police and EMS workers responded to a 911 caller who appeared to be having a mental health crisis. The respondents decided to sedate the individual, according to the report authors who reviewed body camera footage of the incident.
Despite his protests, the man was injected twice and secured to a chair where he became nonverbal and unintelligible.
“He just hit the K-hole,” remarked one of the officers.
When he began to gain consciousness, the officer asked the EMS worker how much more ketamine he had with him.
"I can draw more," said the EMS staffer.
"You're my favorite," replied the officer.
Chief ambulatory officer for Hennepin Healthcare issued a statement claiming ketamine has fewer side effects than other drugs and can save lives. However, he said the draft in question had several inaccuracies.
"Today a local media outlet published an article regarding MPD Officers and their actions during calls for service involving hospital EMS personnel,” he stated. “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 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.”
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