Off-Duty Officer Saved By Narcan After Heroin Overdose

By Keri Blakinger 02/22/16

The overdose comes on the heels of federal authorities issuing an emergency warning about deadly batches of fentanyl-laced heroin in the Erie County area. 

Off-Duty Officer Saved By Narcan After Overdose
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A Buffalo police officer is under investigation after he overdosed on heroin while off duty and had to be saved by a fellow officer who was on duty. 

Officer Michael Moffett was hanging out at a friend’s house on the south side of town when he overdosed and, according to unidentified police sources, was saved after his friend flagged down an officer who was driving by around three in the morning.

After arriving at the scene, police administered two shots of Narcan to Moffett, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard. Moffett is now on unpaid leave while he’s being investigated by the department’s Internal Affairs Division. A relatively new officer, 26-year-old Moffett joined the department in 2014. Theoretically, he could have been using the drug for much of his tenure on the force because the Buffalo department hasn’t had a medical review officer for more than two years. Normally, medical review officers would conduct random drug testing on other officers at least once a year. 

"The department has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, and something like this really is shocking. Right now, we are in shock mode. This is unheard of," one officer told the Buffalo News

The unnamed officer postulated that Moffett might have been using fentanyl-laced heroin, like the batch that killed 23 people in less than two weeks earlier this year. Earlier this month, Erie County put out a warning about a fentanyl-laced batch, advising users to throw out any unused heroin purchased recently.

Fentanyl is considered up to 50 times as potent as heroin but, because it’s cheaper to buy, dealers sometimes mix it with heroin to create a stronger product for less money. Also, the Syracuse outlet noted, some dealers believe they’ll sell more drugs if it’s known that their product is strong enough to cause an overdose. 

More than 350 people have died from heroin overdoses in Erie County since 2014 – and the fact that heroin use has even spread to the police department speaks volumes about the magnitude of the crisis. 

"This is the first time we have had an officer who had taken heroin," one officer said. "We've had other officers in the past who have lost their jobs because they tested positive for marijuana or cocaine, but this is the first time we've had heroin."

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.