Cops' New Favorite Junk Science Is Pretending Being Anywhere Near Fentanyl Will Literally Cause Them To Die

from the 'assault'-means-anything-that-harms-a-cop,-even-if-the-cop-only-imagines dept

The longer we live, the more we become accustomed to cop fiction.

We live and let (our rights) die when cops swear in courts they smelled jazz cigarettes while engaging in a pretextual stop. Who can challenge that? A cop says he smelled weed. The defendant says no he didn’t. Who’s more believable? The cop with the nose or the person accused of multiple felonies?

If cops need an assist, they can always call in another witness that can’t be cross-examined: a drug dog. The dog “alerted” — something that means a breed domesticated to please did nothing more than please its handlers. Courts will, again, often grant deference to “testimony” that can’t be challenged.

The drug warriors of the USA are always in search of the next useful fiction — something that can be written down on reports, delivered in statements in the press, but never objectively examined by a court of law. That new fiction involves the latest public enemy number one: fentanyl.

What cops can’t understand is immediately converted into a threat. Brushing aside medical and scientific expertise, cops are now claiming simply breathing the same air as fentanyl is the equivalent of a death sentence — especially for cops serving bog standard drug warrants. Suddenly, sweeping a house during warrant service is a potential death sentence for officers, no matter how much they’ve outmanned and outgunned the opposition.

The irrational fear of a drug that drug warriors apparently don’t understand has resulted in all sorts of amazing claims by officers:

Every year, police officers claim to have suffered near-fatal overdoses after accidentally touching fentanyl, a synthetic opioid more powerful than morphine or heroin.

“Deputy Nearly Dies of Fentanyl Overdose,” read a headline from the Sacramento Bee this summer. “Officer Exposed to Fentanyl & Transported to Local Hospital,” stated a press release from the Santa Rosa Police Department in 2020. “Police Officer Overdoses After Brushing Fentanyl Powder Off His Uniform,” read the headline on a CNN story from 2017.

But there’s something off about this seeming epidemic of accidental overdoses: It is virtually impossible to overdose simply by touching or getting too close to fentanyl. Doctors and toxicologists warn that the hype around this perceived threat is harming overdose victims, taxpayers, and first responders.

If you ask cops, the mere existence of fentanyl is threatening cops’ lives. If you ask medical professionals, cops are overstating the threat posed by the drug.

Accidental overdose by skin exposure “is chemically and physically implausible,” said Dr. Ryan Marino, a medical toxicologist and addiction medicine specialist who serves as an assistant professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Dr. Andrew Stolbach, an emergency physician and medical toxicologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital, said, “It’s not possible to overdose on fentanyl by touching it. If it was absorbed well through the skin, people wouldn’t inject it and snort it in order to get high.”

Given this disconnect between cops’ claims and medical professionals’ assertions, the only logical conclusion would be for cop shops to tell their drug warriors to stop being so melodramatic. Instead, cops are ignoring the science and allowing their imaginations to act as the basis for serious criminal charges. Welcome to post-sci fi America, where cops are able to secure felony charges based solely on their inability to understand drug interactions.

Despite this, people who use the drug are facing serious legal repercussions — such as charges of assault or endangerment of officers — for supposedly causing these impossible overdoses.

“People should not be in jail for imaginary crimes,” [Dr. Ryan] Marino said.

Look, I don’t have a problem with cops accessing their drug warring spank banks. My complaint is that their mastubatorial fantasies can take real years off real people’s lives. And they’re able to do this because, for the most part, the most powerful parts of our government are unwilling to challenge cops and their narratives. Instead, courts and lawmakers cut cops all sorts of slack under the assumption that cops should be given every opportunity to be wrong.

The man in the anecdote quoted above was sentenced to 6.5 years in jail — a charge predicated on nothing more than an officer’s statements that he didn’t feel quite right after irresponsibly handling evidence.

This delusion infects every level of law enforcement, from the local cops who overreacted to a successful drug bust in Bickel’s case to DEA agents who think nothing of throwing US citizens under the criminal justice wheel just because its agents aren’t willing to read or comprehend information about drugs and drug interactions.

The good news is the mass hysteria encouraged by all levels of law enforcement reached its nadir when the San Diego Police Department released body cam footage it obviously hoped would show the public how dangerous exposure to fentanyl can be. This backfired spectacularly, exposing the San Diego PD and its PR wing as a bunch of Streisands in search of clicks — an effort immediately undermined by hundreds of medical experts.

Over 400 physicians, nurses, and public health researchers signed a letter demanding retractions from the major outlets that credulously repeated the department’s claim. They highlighted the 2017 findings of a joint American College of Medical Toxicology and American Academy of Clinical Toxicology task force, which found that “incidental dermal absorption is very unlikely to cause opioid toxicity,” and “toxicity cannot occur from simply being in proximity to the drug.”

Who knows what really happened to this officer who claimed to be severely damaged by momentary exposure to an illicit substance? One unavoidable assumption is that years of claiming fentanyl can kill or maim on contact resulted in this officer reacting poorly to a stimulus he had been told repeatedly was instantly deadly. What was caught on camera was likely more panic attack (prompted by unscientific police training) than reaction to the substance cops had yet to determine was actual fentanyl. Dramatic as fuck, but so are any number of actors who have been provided with instructions on motivation during certain scenes. (As well as official deference when accused of domestic violence, but I digress…)

Cops are flopping. We’re paying the salaries of a bunch of badged-up Bill Laimbeers who use their imagination and playacting to turn their carelessness at crime scenes into felony assault charges. We’ve posted nothing but losses since the inception of the Drug War. Nearly 50 years down the road, cops are expecting us to credit them with trash time scoring just because they can pretend to collapse when faced with actual work. LOL. Fuck them and the piss poor imagination they rode in on.

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Comments on “Cops' New Favorite Junk Science Is Pretending Being Anywhere Near Fentanyl Will Literally Cause Them To Die”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
That One Guy (profile) says:

'Down with peanuts!' 'Sir, this is a peanut factory.'

Cops claim being in the same room as a substance is dangerous to their health.

Actual medical professionals say that that’s not likely to say the least.

Assuming the cops aren’t just making shit up(something I’m sure they’d never do) it sounds like they’re dealing with yet another medical miracle that only affects people in their profession, and just like you don’t take a job working a peanut factory if you have an allergy to them it sounds like police work is a threat to their lives and they need to be let go or quit for their own sake.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

In Canada, we dont have this bullshit with police over drugs as government approach to combating drug abuse is health-focused and grounded on evidence. ( See Canadian drug strategy )

Notice this drug abuse combatting in Canada is managed by a health authority not something like DEA or the Department of Justice in the U.S.

Maybe America would be better off to end this stupid "Drug War" thing and change strategy to something more intelligent like Canada’s

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: [canadian drug war]

Maybe America would be better off to end this stupid "Drug War" thing

You might think that, if you thought that the goal was to control drugs. If you realized that there are two goals, neither particularly drug-related, then you would better understand why the U.S. needs its “war on drugs”:

  1. Provide new employment for former rum-runners and their heirs
  2. Provide reason to mark darker-complected persons as non-voting felons

Understand these things and the necessity for the drug war becomes clear.

[sorry about the premature earlier submit, some genius put preview'' <strong>after</strong>submit” so a stray return does the wrong thing]

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What?!? Treat drug addiction and abuse as a social issue instead of a criminal issue? Where would this lead?

A few spoilers:

  • Reduction in crime/theft (because addicts can get the treatment they need without fear of being tossed into jail).
  • The near elimination of the drug cartels and the black market.
  • Prison over population problem is eliminated.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Indeed. Disproportionally too many black lives are wasted in prison over simple possession of drugs where they could have spent the time with their family and leading socially productive lives. Treating drug addiction and abuse as an social issue instead of a criminal issue will end this waste of lives and this financial drain on society paying for all that incarceration and lost potential incomes that the jailed would have earned if not jailed that could benefit their families, that could be taxed to boost up government funds and open possibly of more social spending. Not to speak lost potential customers that could have benefited businesses and though that, create jobs. Also this will reduce gun violence and the number of deaths of innocent people at hand of police or the gangs. Anyone that supports BLM should advocate the government to adopt a more social approach to the drug addiction and abuse problems.

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So, in other words, you’d have;

  • The loss of the ever-ready excuse and scapegoat for politicians all over as to why the people can’t have nice things.
  • The loss of the highly profitable pseudo-slavery which is the US penal system.
  • The removal of yet another demographic which even the greatest of societal losers can look down on.

I don’t think that’ll fly in US political circles. The things you mention are only drawbacks if you aren’t a politician or prison shareholder.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

You can imagine how the gears were turning in their heads. "Look, boys, we managed to convince judges that children and family pets are to be shot on sight due to the threat to our lives. We’ve convinced them that videogame controllers and walking sticks are lethal weapons. We’ve convinced them that sugar is crack cocaine and it’s safe to inject dangerous amounts of ketamine into suspects. I’m pretty sure we can convince them that exposure to fentanyl will kill all cops within a ten-mile radius and thus legitimize us gunning everyone down because we’ve proven time and time again that the courts are really that fucking stupid."

Coffee U (profile) says:

Fentanyl not dangerous to touch.

My wife works with people who use drugs, and was able to convince someone to lend her for a photo op. She took two pictures; one holding 1.5g of meth in her bare hand, and the other with about 1 g of fentanyl (he we real careful to scrape any residue out of her palm. She’s never used either of the two, and felt no affects afterwards.

It’s just cops getting scared and having panic attacks if they can’t shoot what they’re scared about. Perhaps people who have panic attacks about things they’re expected to regularly come in contact with aren’t the right people for the job?

This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Thin Skinned

Accidental overdose by skin exposure “is chemically and physically implausible,”

But did you take in to account how thin the skin is of an ‘average’ police officer"?.. It’s like they don’t even have skin, so touching something is as good as injecting it directly.

idiots says:

kidding right?

armchair policy makers ..

those of us who are on the "front lines" of this war – will definitely disagree.
maybe a carefully measured amount of "official" true fentanyl that is manufactured for it’s intended purpose "might" fall into this category.. unfortunately – illegally produced drugs/compounds you certainly cannot and would be foolish as hell to dismiss, and take a flippant attitude towards.. there’s no telling what other substances may be mixed in that unknown powder- sweat, cuts/nicks of the skin (that you may not necessarily know are there – can change your "so called" exposure.

if you believe this crap – please go volunteer to be the first one to go in and treat the victims- make sure you are careless as possible when you do – since your belief that absolutely no harm could ever come to you.
I guarantee we’ll be having to treat you as a victim at some point.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: 'No one is as dumb as a cop' strikes again

I don’t think you just said what you might have intended to say.

If the problem is sloppy handling making a substance dangerous when it otherwise wouldn’t be then the solution is simple and it’s not ‘charge the owner for assaulting a cop’ but ‘have people who aren’t such incompetents handle the drugs in a professional manner’.

If handing the drugs with bare skin is a problem then guess what, that’s what gloves are for.

If breathing in the substance is a potential problem then that’s why breathers and masks with filters exist.

And if the substance is so (potentially) deadly that simply being in the same room as it is a risk then kick the goons with guns out and have some people in hazmat suits handle the scene.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 'No one is as dumb as a cop' strikes again

If handing the drugs with bare skin is a problem then guess what, that’s what gloves are for. If breathing in the substance is a potential problem then that’s why breathers and masks with filters exist.

But proper procedure is hard and isn’t as kickass as going in with guns blazing and shooting everything with legs.

Seriously, these guys are trained and raised on a diet of hype and "treat the general public as your enemy". You could give them all the protection gear necessary to safeguard their lives – and in fact, they already are heavily protected – and still these meatheads are going to go for the nuclear option first. Realistically, who’s going to stop them?

JMT (profile) says:

Re: kidding right?

"armchair policy makers…"

Do the American College of Medical Toxicology and American Academy of Clinical Toxicology have comfy armchairs?

"those of us who are on the "front lines" of this war…"

Sure you are skippy…

"if you believe this crap…"

Do I trust the word of actual medical professionals over that of literally any law enforcement personnel on this matter? Absolutely. Cops have zero credibility on this one.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: kidding right?

make sure you are careless as possible when you do

And there it is…despite reliance on training, expertise, and an eye for detail around finding the drug user/drugs in the first place, apparently that training abruptly ends when it comes to a cop being a careless idiot when it comes to handling a thing they’re so knowledgeable of.

I’m happy to see another one of you ‘front line’ people advocating that you are, in fact, as dumb as a bag of hammers.

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