E.T. Phone Home

It’s just another Friday afternoon in May. As part of the narcotics unit, I am working my cases, trying to finish up paperwork from the week. Since the drug scene doesn’t slow down for the weekend, I decide to do one more, “quick” undercover drug buy.

I have been working undercover narcotics for years. I have watched the popularity of certain drugs change but it never goes away. When I began my career, heroin was rare but now we are tracking down dealers selling kilos of its powder form. Powder heroin has exploded in popularity and it is deadly. Trust me, I know!

The undercover deal went fine. As usual, it took longer than expected and everyone is itching to end their shift. This was my deal, my case; I can handle the tiny bit of paperwork, testing, and turning everything into the property room. Everyone packs up and heads out, our shift ended over an hour ago anyway.

I grab a heroin test kit and pair of purple gloves. It only takes several grains of the drug for the test. I seal the kit, break the test vials and agitate everything together. The test kit does not turn green. I know immediately there is a problem. No green means this is not heroin! Almost immediately my head begins to ring. It swiftly sets in, this is not heroin, it is something much worse; Fentanyl! My ears are ringing, tongue and fingers are numb, but I have on the gloves; nothing has touched my skin.

I run out of the office leaving everything on my desk. This is terrifying, I have seen news reports of officers overdosing and even dying from accidental exposure to this highly potent drug. Outside, I try to calm down and get some fresh air, it has started to rain and I can only pray that these symptoms do not get worse. At this point, I do believe my life is in danger. Back inside the office I ditch the gloves, and thoroughly wash my hands and arms.  I also realize both my phones are still on my desk; I cannot go back in there without protective gear or a gas mask. The drugs are still exposed at my desk.

Our office kitchen has a phone and I have a decision to make, who do I call first? If I call 911 they will probably quarantine the building, hazmat suits, the fire department; that is probably overkill. I imagined a scene out of the movie “ET.” I need my gas mask but it is in my garage, at home, so I call my wife. She knows exactly where the bag is and is on her way. Despite my efforts to stay calm she knows something is very wrong.

Now all I can do is wait. I am still considering whether to call 911 when I begin to hear music coming from the gym; I thought I was here alone. Back in the gym I find a Sergeant, I explain what has happened and that I believe I have been exposed to Fentanyl. The Sergeant does not have his gas mask there either so we still have to wait, at least now if I pass out, someone can call 911 for me.

Suddenly, I remember I do have a second gas mask in my car. Luckily I feel the symptoms getting weaker, so as I have a witness (at a safe distance) I place my gas mask over my head and enter the office, facing the deadly drug. I double bag everything and head to the property room. Now I can drop everything off with a request that it be tested immediately. Since the danger has passed and I am feeling better, I contact my immediate supervisor to let him know what happened and that there will be paperwork for us to complete ASAP.

Several days later I receive the results from the crime lab. Luckily I lived to read the results and they confirm that the substance was Fentanyl. It was a sinking feeling, but I am thankful to be alive. Now I have to rush the investigation and get this deadly drug off the streets. Within the next several days I am able to coordinate with Sumner County, who provides superb services assisting in the drug case. We stop the dealer leaving his Hendersonville home and the Hazmat crew then makes entry into his home. A search reveals another two ounces of pure Fentanyl that would have hit the streets of Nashville and surrounding areas.

The interesting part of this whole story is that when I was exposed, nowhere in the building was Narcan or any other opioid reversing medicine. It just didn’t exist for any Metro Officers. Knowing this was a growing problem for several years, the administration chose to ignore it. Narcotics Detectives had been requesting command staff purchase Narcan for over a year! We were told it was too expensive.

I’m sure you can guess what happened about three weeks later. That’s right, the Chief’s come out and announce that they will now be providing officers with Narcan. It only took a near-death experience by one of their own to realize the need for this life-saving tool. You will not hear them admit that any Metro Officers were exposed. Hell, I was even told to “keep quiet” about the incident when questioned by the media after we busted the Fentanyl dealer.

See what was said by Deputy Chief Henry, who is in charge of the major narcotics unit, on June 9, 2017:

"At some point, it is going to be necessary to provide [Narcan] to all our officers, but it is a funding issue at this point," Deputy Chief Henry said. "We were able to find the funds to at least get it started for the officers who are most likely to come into contact with these drugs, but eventually we want to give it to all officers."

Link to News 2 story:  http://www.wkrn.com/news/local-news/metro-nashville-police-to-outfit-officers-with-opioid-antidote_20180319074046854/1057408081

I tell this horrifying story in attempt to educate those on the dangers of Fentanyl. All first responders need Narcan or Naloxone to save lives. I was exposed by something that was simply airborne; it never touched my skin! Covert Results professionals have decades of experience, that include near death experiences and we can educate the public on the effects of this powerful drug. For more information on training opportunities please contact Covert Results at 615-861-1680, contact@covertresults.com, or visit our website Covertresults.com.

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