In October, a tribute to a young Burlington, Vermont, mother named Madelyn Linsenmeier—who died of an opioid overdose—went viral on social media.Char Adams, “Grieving Woman Speaks Out After Writing Moving Obituary for Sister Who Died from Drug Addiction,” People, October 17, 2018. It struck a chord with one leader in that community: Burlington’s police chief, Brandon del Pozo.
Del Pozo wrote a Facebook post that went viral also—but for a different reason. While praising the woman’s family for honoring their loved one, del Pozo also highlighted the struggles of the many who die from opioids in isolation. “Ask the cops and they will tell you,” he wrote, “Maddie’s death was nothing special at all. It happens all the time, to people no less loved and needed and human.”Brandon del Pozo, “Burlington Police Chief Reacts to Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir Obituary: ‘I Have a Problem,’” Burlington Free Press, October 17, 2018. Del Pozo, a former officer in the New York City Police Department, supports law enforcement officials carrying naloxone to reverse overdoses, medication-assisted treatment for incarcerated people, and alternatives to arrest for people with substance use disorders.Brandon del Pozo, “Burlington Police Chief Reacts to Madelyn Ellen Linsenmeir Obituary: ‘I Have a Problem,’” Burlington Free Press, October 17, 2018.; and Jennifer Trone, “David and Goliath,” Vera Institute of Justice.