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Front-line RCMP officers in Manitoba are getting respiratory equipment and eye protection for when dealing with fentanyl and other opioids.

Specialized equipment has been purchased with money from the criminal property forfeiture fund.

Assistant Commissioner Scott Kolody says in a press release keeping officers safe from accidental exposure to fentanyl and other illicit opioids is a priority for the RCMP. He also spoke to reporters at D division headquarters this morning.

"Today, it's just very difficult to detect exactly what it is until further analysis is being done, so we take a lot of precautions in respect to that and I think it's a good thing that we're prepared," he said.

Kolody says there's been an upsurge in fentanyl from coast-to-coast in Canada.

"We're not immune from that whatsoever here in Manitoba, so we're educating our officers now moreso. We started equipping them with naloxone and training, and this equipment that we received here recently... all these things are precautions and it's just one step further in promoting (officers') health and wellness."

RCMP D Division is getting more than $382,000 from the forfeiture fund, with $54,000 of that going to this equipment. Approximately 1,080 front-line RCMP officers will be fitted with the new respiratory and eye protection. RCMP also say they will be ensuring remote detachments get access to fit-testing equipment, to ensure the respiratory equipment works properly.

Justice minister Heather Stefanson says an announcement to do with Winnipeg police and their take from the criminal property forfeiture fund is coming.

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