Chattanooga Police Face Unique Challenge Pursuing Indictments for Drug Overdose Deaths

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Second degree murder, facilitation of second degree murder, criminally negligent homicide — these are some of the charges on which fourteen people were indicted yesterday.

These charges were in connection to nine overdose deaths, but, as CPD Captain John Chambers explains, that can present a unique challenge to investigators.

“Whenever you’re investigating overdose death cases, you don’t have the luxury of having physical evidence a lot of times, the vast majority of times,” said Chambers.

According to Chambers, a typical case will come with physical evidence, which allows law enforcement to establish probable cause.

In the case of a drug overdose, investigations can be long-term, and rely on a high degree of cooperation within the police department.

“[Officers] employ every piece of law enforcement resource that we actually have access to. And just like with using the analyst that I mentioned earlier, we have done a really good job here at the Chattanooga Police Department of being proactive in ensuring that our officers have the best technology and technological resources available to them,” he said.

The analyst Chambers refers to is part of the CPD’s effort to stop overdose deaths before they happen, identifying individuals who have experienced multiple overdoses and intervening with services.

“Even if it means we have to place a minor charge, just to get them into the system, so that we can provide them services they could not afford otherwise, but once we’re able to get them in the system, the state can cover that for them,” he added.

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