Former Rep. Durham arrested on drunken driving charges

Former Rep. Jeremy Durham’s booking photo. (Image credit: Metro Nashville Police)

Police arrested former state Rep. Jeremy Durham (R-Franklin) in Nashville’s downtown tourist district over the weekend on charges of drunken driving, possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest.

Durham was ousted from the House in 2016 after the Attorney General’s Office issued a report detailing allegations of sexual misconduct against 22 women. According to an officer’s affidavit, Durham was involved in a crash at the corner of 1st Avenue and Broadway just after 11 p.m. on Saturday. When police arrived at the scene, Durham allegedly tried to walk away and pulled away from being placed in handcuffs.

When they searched Durham, police said they found a metal grinder containing marijuana residue. They also said Durham had slurred speech, dilated pupils, was unsteady on his feet, had a strong odor of residue on his breath. Durham declined to participate in a sobriety test so officials requested a warrant to take a blood sample.

Durham was released on bond at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

State: You can’t overdose on fentanyl by touching objects

Fentanyl cannot be be absorbed by touching items or surfaces where the drug had been located, the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services advised on Wednesday.

“It’s so important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to fentanyl because Tennesseans are dying of overdose by the thousands. It is our hope that these facts will help people who are struggling with opioid use reach to treatment if they need it and find a new life in recovery,” the department’s commissioner, Marie Williams, said in a release.

Here’s the full statement:

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) and Department of Health today issued new guidance and information around fentanyl and what to do in case of a potential exposure.

Recent media reports have highlighted stories of exposure to a white powdery substance assumed to be fentanyl and the wide variety of adverse medical reactions that followed. While these stories are disturbing, it is important for everyone involved to separate fact from fiction when talking about fentanyl exposure to avoid unnecessary confusion and panic.

Illicit fentanyl cannot be absorbed through the skin or by touching an item or surface where it is present. When in powder form, fentanyl and its analogs (including carfentanil and fluorofentanyl) cannot be absorbed through the skin. Dissolving the powder in a liquid does not change this property. Wet objects do not pose an increased risk for an overdose caused by casual exposure.

“It’s so important to separate fact from fiction when it comes to fentanyl because Tennesseans are dying of overdose by the thousands. It is our hope that these facts will help people who are struggling with opioid use reach to treatment if they need it and find a new life in recovery,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.

“Overdoses are heart-wrenching, for those who live through them and for the family and friends of those who don’t,” said TDH Commissioner Dr. Morgan McDonald, MD FACP FAAP. “We are taking every opportunity to provide care and information to those dealing with addiction to prevent deaths and overdoses from fentanyl and opioids.”

What should you do if you believe you have been exposed to a substance that could be fentanyl?

• Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
• Wash your hands with soap and water to remove any substance from your hands.
• If you begin to experience any adverse medical symptoms, seek medical attention.

Symptoms of opioid/fentanyl overdose include pinpoint pupils, falling asleep or losing consciousness, slow and shallow breathing, choking or gurgling sounds, limp body, and pale, blue, or cold skin. If you suspect an overdose, call 911, and administer naloxone (Narcan) if available. Do not leave the person alone.

Symptoms such as alertness, rapid heartbeat, hyperventilating, sweating, chills, numbness in fingers are NOT typically associated with opioid/fentanyl overdoses, though they may need medical attention. These symptoms are more commonly associated with anxiety or a panic attack.

For a fentanyl overdose to occur, the powder must enter the bloodstream and get to the brain. This is why it is important to avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth until you can wash your hands. Fentanyl can also enter the bloodstream through cuts or wounds on the skin. Wounds must be open and visible to allow fentanyl to enter.

Prescription fentanyl transdermal patches dispensed by a licensed pharmacist are especially formulated to include other pharmaceutical ingredients designed to increase the permeability of the skin which allows a small amount of fentanyl to be absorbed very slowly. Full absorption of fentanyl through a patch takes 3-13 hours. Proper disposal of patches reduces the risk of ingestion by children and pets.

To learn more about fentanyl, overdose reversal, and how to save a life with naloxone, please reach out to the Regional Overdose Prevention Specialist who serves your area. Additionally, you can find recorded trainings and information about fentanyl on our website at this link: TN.gov/behavioral-health/fentanyl. If you or someone you love needs connection to addiction treatment services call or text the Tennessee REDLINE at 800-889-9789 for free and confidential referrals.

Former Knoxville mayor speaks out against gutting police oversight panels

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe is speaking out against legislative efforts to gut police oversight boards in Tennessee’s three biggest cities.

Ashe, a former Republican state senator and U.S. ambassador to Poland, noted in his Shopper News column that he created Knoxville’s Police Advisory Review Commission, or PARC, by executive order 20 years ago and that it was was made permanent by unanimous City Council vote two years later.

“PARC has worked well in Knoxville and has stood the test of time. It has gone a long way to establish credibility and objectivity in disputes involving the Police Department,” Ashe wrote. “It is unfortunate that legislation to weaken it is pending, when it has been a credit to Knoxville.”

The Knoxville City Council last week passed a resolution urging its legislative delegation to oppose the bill seeking to strip civilian police oversight commissions of subpoena powers.

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