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.