Norfolk DA: Opiate crisis among key challenges

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Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey sees substantial challenges ahead as he enters his second four-year term.

“The opiate crisis continues to burn out of control,” Morrissey said, after being sworn in by Secretary of State William Galvin at a January 7 ceremony at Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham.

Secretary of State William Galvin (left) administers the oath of office to DA Michael Morrissey at Norfolk Superior Court.

Secretary of State William Galvin (left) administers the oath of office to DA Michael Morrissey at Norfolk Superior Court.

“In these past four years, we were the first DA’s office to push Narcan overdose-reversal kits and training out to every police and fire department, first to provide prescription drug collection containers for every available police station in the county, and the first to visit every drug store in the county to talk to pharmacists about safe prescribing and prescription monitoring,” Morrissey said. “We are doing all we can conceive of, but people are still overdosing at an alarming rate. We are working hard with local police departments and our communities.”

In 2013, State Police homicide detectives assigned to Morrissey’s office responded to 64 unattended deaths that proved to be fatal overdoses. In 2014, that number rose to 91. Those numbers do not include persons who made it to the hospital before succumbing, but those who were found in the community deceased.

“I cringe to think what the numbers would be if we had not parlayed the successful example of Quincy Police and provided Narcan and training to all of Norfolk County,” Morrissey said.

Morrissey also pointed to his extensive work on school safety planning and training, his part in the 2012 establishment of the Veterans Treatment Court, and his work to establish and support substance abuse prevention coalitions in each community that did not have one as steps in the right direction during his first term.

The DA will continue to focus on highway-related deaths, striving to prevent impaired driving by working with alcohol servers and establishments, and improving the training and resources available for the investigation and prosecution of motor vehicle homicides.

“This office does not shrink from punishing those who need to be punished, but we also need to use our position and our resources to help those who need to be helped,” Morrissey said. “We continue to innovate, improve and strive to be better — and we appreciate all of the police and community partners that provide not only ideas, but their help and assistance in that work.”

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