Alabama AG’s office trains law enforcement to treat more overdoses as possible homicides

(Photo: Getty Images)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama law enforcement and prosecutors received special training on how to best handle cases where someone has died of a heroin or fentanyl overdose to focus more on potential prosecution of the person supplying the drugs. State Attorney General Steve Marshall and the National Attorneys General Training and Research Institute (NAGTRI) teamed up to provide the training seminar for around 100 representatives of state prosecutors’ offices and law enforcement agencies.

AG Marshall’s office says in a release that deaths from drug overdoses have reached crisis proportions, with reports showing that a majority of these are due to use of opioids and heroin.  In 2016, such overdoses claimed the lives of about 750 victims in Alabama, according to the AG’s office.

“Drug abuse is more dangerous than ever, with certain opioids such as fentanyl being fatal in very small amounts but being sold indiscriminately by dealers,” said Attorney General Marshall. “This can be tantamount to murder, with victims having no way of knowing they were taking something so powerful and deadly. It is important that we recognize this as something more than a tragic accident, and that these death scenes be evaluated with possible homicide in mind. Those involved in the sale of these opioids are profiting without care or regard for the lives destroyed by their lethal wares, and they should be held to account. The training provided today teaches how to build a strong investigation and successful prosecution of such cases.”

The training session included presentations about changing how law enforcement think when someone has died in that manner and cooperating to hold the dealers, manufacturers, and suppliers responsible for providing drugs that kill. The goal of the seminar was to gain a better understanding of tactics and components of those death investigations and the related legal issues. They also worked on how to gather and coordinate sharing the investigation information and the role of medical examiners in overdose death situations.

NAGTRI is the training and research branch of the National Association of Attorneys General. Its mission is to provide high-quality, responsive, innovative training to state and territory attorney general offices.