Coppell police chief addressing fentanyl crisis

“It’s here. It’s plentiful.”


Angelina Liu

Coppell City Council member Biju Mathew presents the proclamation to make April “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” Coppell Police Chief Danny Barton presented about fentanyl to raise awareness for the drug.

Angelina Liu, Executive Editor-in-Chief

At Tuesday’s Coppell City Council meeting, Police Chief Danny Barton’s voice quivers as he holds himself steady on the dark brown podium. On the large projector screen, a sharp tip of a No. 2 pencil with white substance on top of it is displayed. 

“That is a lethal dose of fentanyl,” Barton said. “That’s just about two milligrams.” 

According to Barton, fentanyl has already claimed two lives in the Coppell community. Earlier this year, an 18-year-old died after taking a pill that looked like oxycodone. Nearly 23 days later, a 21-year-old took a similar type of pill and overdosed. 

“I’ve been a police chief for over four years, and I’ve been a police officer for a lot of years,” Barton said.  “I’ve never seen anything that’s bugging me like this is bugging me, because the trajectory that we’re on is alarming. Our community has got to understand the realities of what’s going on.” 

According to Coppell Fire Chief Kevin Richardson, this year the department has seen 11 overdoses and have had to use Narcan on 10 of those. 

“Recently, we took fentanyl pills off of the campus of the high school,” Barton said. “A juvenile has been charged with those pills. We know he’s not the only person in our school. It’s at every school in America. We’ve had some local area residents who have been connected to the supply. They were residing right here in Coppell.” 

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid like percocet, hydrocodone and codeine. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine or heroin. After taking the drug, one can experience a euphoric rush followed by drowsiness that contributes to its addictiveness. 

One two pound bag of fentanyl can be used to create one to five million pills. The bags are coming into the United States and the pills are being produced here. 

“They put fentanyl in pretty much anything you can think of right now,” Barton said. “The scary part is that the pills they are producing look just like the pills that you get from your pharmacy. They have the same color and stamps on them.” 

Oxycodone pills marked with a 30 and an M on the other side are what is currently being seen the most in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In an attempt to make the drug more appealing to consumers, it can be also made to look like candy, however, Barton has not come across those yet. 

Recently, the Drug Enforcement Agency held a presentation for families that lost loved ones to fentanyl overdose at the Coppell Arts Center. Around 125 families from around the region came and shared their testimonies. 

“This kid borrowed an Adderall pill so he could study for an exam,” Barton said. “It was a lethal dose and he died. They think they’re taking a hydrocodone, xanax, or whatever it is, and they have no idea. It’s really fentanyl. And that’s what’s causing the spike.” 

Barton explains the process of making fentanyl pills akin to chocolate chip cookies. After mixing the drug with other fillers, some pills will have more potency than others. Currently, the DEA is reporting that six out of 10 pills contain lethal doses. 

Currently, Coppell ISD is combatting fentanyl usage by spreading awareness on the drug and supplying campuses with plenty of Narcan. 

“We’re going to build a resource page on our city website,” Barton said. “We plan to do town hall meetings. This is a big deal. This is not a problem that police can solve. We’re not going to be able to arrest our way out of this situation. It’s going to be more than talking to our kids, it’s going to be knowing who your kids are hanging out with, it’s going to be searching their rooms when they’re not looking. Every family’s got to attack this themselves.” 

Prior to the fentanyl presentation, the council approved two proclamations, one designating the week of April 16-22 as “Volunteer Week”  and the other designating the month of April as “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” The citizen’s appearance heard many supporting voices for the establishment of a veteran’s memorial in Coppell parks and the preservation of the Coppell church and annex. 

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