Winnemucca, NV — In June of this year, a police officer with over two decades on the job was found dead in the Winnemucca Police Department's evidence locker. He had a bag of fentanyl in his pocket, yet when his death was announced, it was reported that officer Matt Morgan died of "natural causes." The very next day, dozens of police departments from around the area put together a procession parade two hours long in his honor as people stood along the route to pay their respects. But Morgan didn't die of natural causes and he had no business being in the department's evidence locker that day.
"A procession honored Winnemucca Police Department Detective and community hero Matt Morgan, 47, who passed away unexpectedly while at work on Thursday, June 25, 2020, of apparent natural causes," the report read after Morgan passed away.
But his death was not natural. Weeks later, an investigation would reveal that Morgan overdosed on fentanyl and methamphetamine in that evidence locker. What's more, Morgan was not supposed to be in the locker that day and the investigation revealed that the evidence (seized drugs) had been tampered with by this "hero cop."
According to the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, who is conducting the investigation, it is still ongoing.
Morgan's death is tragic and serves as a reminder of just how deadly this opioid epidemic is that Americans are facing. Morgan was not only a cop for over 25 years, whose job consisted of locking people in cages for using the very drugs that killed him, but he was also part of the city's Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program.
According to his biography he put together when waging an unsuccessful campaign for Justice of the Peace, Morgan spent seven years going from school to school to teach children about the dangers of drug use. Unfortunately, while he spread propaganda about marijuana, he didn't realize that he would be susceptible to an opioid addiction.
Morgan's death should not be in vain. Hopefully, it serves to highlight the problem of the opioid epidemic and the utter failure of the police state at stopping it. When the people who claim to be fighting the war on drugs are the ones overdosing in their evidence lockers, you know the problem has hit an extreme.
Criminalizing addiction and substance abuse has done nothing to curb use. People are literally dying in the streets at an increasing rate and no amount of police state can stop it. In fact, since the inception of the drug war, drug addiction and overdoses have gotten worse. Why is that?
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Last year, TFTP reported on a similar incident in which another cop — whose job consisted of locking people in cages for illegal substances — overdosed while on duty. Luckily for Franklin Township police officer Matthew D. Ellery, 29, he was found early enough to save his life and the officer who responded to his overdose was an EMT.
The officer immediately recognized Ellery’s symptoms as an opiate overdose. Naloxone was administered and Ellery began breathing once more after the officer administered CPR. A few minutes longer and Ellery would be dead just like Morgan.
As we reported, Ellery did not go to jail for betraying the people he served, instead he received drug treatment and probation.
Unlike Ellery, the thousands of people who get caught with similar substances every year do not get his treatment and end up locked in a cage. Clearly this is not working.
Research — according to many law enforcement officials — shows that the cost of incarceration, especially for repeat drug offenders, is far higher than simply treating their addiction. It is also far better for a society who values freedom.
The good news is that some law enforcement across the country are realizing that treatment — not cages — curbs the problem of addiction far more successfully. Morgan was probably so afraid of getting caught using drugs and going to jail, that he was scared to admit he needed treatment and this system cost him his life.
Had a program like the Angel Program in Gloucester, MA been available to Morgan, he may still be alive today. Unfortunately, Nevada is still hell bent attempting to treat addiction problems with the barrel of a gun.
Morgan's death needs to serve as a wake up call to law enforcement and the rest of the country who continues to blindly support the war on drugs. Your support for kidnapping and caging drug users is causing unnecessary suffering and death. And, it has led to one of the largest drug epidemics the world has ever seen. When the state's war on drugs can't even prevent its own enforcers from overdosing inside their own buildings, it's high time we rethink where this is going. End the drug war now.