Nearly 400 died of a drug overdose in Louisville last year, with 64 percent involving fentanyl

Nearly 400 people died of an accidental drug overdose in Louisville last year, with 64 percent of those fatalities involving the powerful opioid fentanyl, according to records from the Jefferson County Coroner’s office.

This amounts to yet another record-high total of fatal drug overdoses for Louisville, as the city continues to be hit hard by the national opioid epidemic that has shifted from prescription painkillers, to heroin, and now to fentanyl — the drug that was largely unheard of just a few years ago.

According to the records of the local coroner, their office has documented 396 cases of accidental drug overdoses in 2017, with lab results showing that fentanyl or fentanyl analogs were involved in 253 of those deaths.

These numbers are likely to increase even further, as their office still has open cases from the month of December that will not be closed until the lab results are completed.

The total numbers of deaths last year amounted to a 22.5 percent increase from Louisville’s previous record set in 2016, when the coroner’s office recorded 324 overdose deaths. The total from 2016 was a 56 percent increase from the 220 overdose deaths in 2015.

The pace of increase in the number of fatal overdose cases involving fentanyl has been even higher, as it was only found in 26 individuals during 2015. That total increased by over five times in 2016 to 139, and then increased by another 83 percent last year — a nearly tenfold increase over just two years.

Statistics compiled from Jefferson County Coroner data

While fatal overdoses involving fentanyl have surged, the number that involve heroin has actually declined in this period. In 2015, 46 percent of the fatal overdoses involved heroin (102), while those figures decreased in 2016 and then again in 2017, when only 75 involved heroin — just 19 percent of all cases.

Despite that decrease, as well as the decrease of prescription opioids, over 87 percent of all accidental drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved some type of opioid, with just 50 cases having no opioid detected in their system.

Statistics compiled from Jefferson County Coroner data

One drug that has surged in Louisville is gabapentin, a non-opioid prescription painkiller that has been increasingly abused. While gabapentin was present in only four fatal overdose cases in 2015, that total increased to 25 in 2016 and 92 last year, surpassing heroin.

While gabapentin was now prevalent in more of these fatalities, the much more potent and deadly fentanyl was present in over two-thirds of these same cases.

When examining the monthly totals of fatal overdoses, the record amount in 2017 was clearly driven by the local epidemic’s peak in January and February of that year. After the record 65 fatalities in February, Louisville’s monthly totals averaged roughly half of that amount for the rest of the year — though still remarkably high.

The 40 overdose deaths in August were still the sixth-highest monthly total over the last three years.

Statistics compiled from Jefferson County Coroner data

The coroner’s records show that 18 of the fatal overdose victims in 2017 were homeless and 45 lived outside of Jefferson County, though most of those people lived in neighboring counties. Over 64 percent of the victims were male.

In 2017, 2,454 patients received a dose of naloxone — the drug used to revive those who have overdosed on naloxone — from a first responder on a Louisville EMS overdose run. That amount surpassed the previous year’s record, as did the department’s 7,651 total overdose runs.

Asked to comment about the alarming fatal overdose statistics from 2017, Mayor Greg Fischer issued an emailed statement noting that Louisville is not alone in cities “dealing with a devastating opioid epidemic.”

“Experts have called it the worst drug crisis in American history,” said Fischer. “Far too many people have died, and far too many lives have been destroyed. Addressing this crisis is a priority for Louisville Metro Government and our community as a whole.”

Fischer added that the Department of Public Health and Wellness “has been working with experts to develop a two-year action plan to help us address substance use disorder in Louisville. We’ll be announcing details of that report later this month.”

Nationally, drug overdose fatalities steadily increased since 2000, but shot upward in recent yearswith the rise of heroin. In 2016, they increased even higher with the emergence of fentanyl, as over 20,000 of the 64,000 fatal drug overdoses that year involved such synthetic opioids.

The number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl nearly doubled to 10,000 in 2015, and then doubled again to 20,145 in 2016. The federal Center for Disease Control and National Institute on Drug Abuse have not yet complied the national overdose figures for 2017, which are usually released in the summer.

Graph via National Institute on Drug Abuse using CDC statistics

Louisville crime sinks rating to 61st Best Place to Live


Louisville once described as the sixteen largest city in the United States is now ranked sixty first best place to live. Rising crime and violence plaguing the city is certain to diminish already meager corporate investment and exacerbate the cities continuing decline in talent.

Louisville was bested by all of the large areas around it including Lexington, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Nashville.

Louisville’s criminal justice system continues to demonstrate a lack of competency with years of jailing their way out of crime having failed. Now the city faces rising crime but an over populated city’s jail system with many non violent addicts making the jail the largest detox center in Kentucky, while putting people accused of murder on home incarceration. The number of unserved warrants, revoked probation and assaults sky rocks.

Mike O’Connell Jefferson County Attorney had stated he felt there was no need for change and promised to “stay the course” after his narrow re-election victory in 2014.  The past four years have continued Louisville’s descent beyond the national averages.  Louisville has a chance at changing the system on May 22, 2018 where O’Connell is challenged for the role of County Attorney. Even with the city descending into hell the challenger appears as underdog.

 Good luck Louisville!

95% of American Cities Safer than Louisville!

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With a crime rate of 54 per one thousand residents, Louisville has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 19. Within Kentucky, more than 97% of the communities have a lower crime rate than Louisville.

Importantly, when you compare Louisville to other communities of similar population, then Louisville crime rate (violent and property crimes combined) is quite a bit higher than average. Regardless of how Louisville does relative to all communities in America of all sizes, when NeighborhoodScout compared it to communities of similar population size, its crime rate per thousand residents stands out as higher than most.

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Now let us turn to take a look at how Louisville does for violent crimes specifically, and then how it does for property crimes. This is important because the overall crime rate can be further illuminated by understanding if violent crime or property crimes (or both) are the major contributors to the general rate of crime in Louisville.

For Louisville, we found that the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small). Violent offenses tracked included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon. According to NeighborhoodScout’s analysis of FBI reported crime data, your chance of becoming a victim of one of these crimes in Louisville is one in 136.

In addition, NeighborhoodScout found that a lot of the crime that takes place in Louisville is property crime. Property crimes that are tracked for this analysis are burglary, larceny over fifty dollars, motor vehicle theft, and arson. In Louisville, your chance of becoming a victim of a property crime is one in 21, which is a rate of 47 per one thousand population.

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Importantly, we found that Louisville has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the nation according to our analysis of FBI crime data. This is compared to communities of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest. In fact, your chance of getting your car stolen if you live in Louisville is one in 143.

Brent Ackerson Debates Mike O’Connell

Watch this debate and make an informed decision May 22, 2018.

The Louisville Forum hosted a debate between Brent Ackerson and Mike O’Connell. The debate for Jefferson County Attorney touches on several key issues such as drug policy, jail over-crowding, the sexual abuse lawsuit brought by minors in the Explorer program and restorative justice. Each candidate provides their vision for the office of County Attorney in Louisville as well as other topics.

*for extra sourced points throughout the video turn on subtitles. Sources of the statements made in the subtitles are available among other articles at and are listed below.

A transcript is posted below as well. This was machine generated and may contain technical errors.

Transcript Unavailable

Lawsuit: Prosecutors Must Donate To Boss’s Campaign

A veteran attorney in a Kentucky county prosecutor’s office claims she was fired for reporting that her boss, an elected official, illegally pressured lawyers in the department to donate money to his political campaign and party.

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell used the “fear [of] his wrath” to pressure assistant prosecutors to donate to his political campaign and Democrats, according to a lawsuit filed this week by the fired prosecutor (Glenda Bradshaw). A former Jefferson County director of criminal prosecutions, Bradshaw says her boss “kept track of who did or did not contribute to his campaign” and “was known to summon the campaign contribution list if he was going to take employment action within his office.”

She also claims in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed this week that O’Connell created a hostile work environment, discriminated against her because of her gender and retaliated against her for the actions she took. Before getting fired Bradshaw was a prosecutor for nearly 25 years, 16 of them at the county attorney’s office.

A former district and circuit court judge, O’Connell was appointed Jefferson County Attorney last summer as a replacement for the prosecutor who received a judicial appointment. He has been preparing his campaign to run for a full term in the May Democratic primary and has raised a chunk of cash from employees in the county attorney’s office he runs, according to state election finance records.

It’s perfectly legal for employees to contribute to a public official’s election campaign as long as the donations are voluntary and not in any way coerced. O’Connell says he fired Bradshaw for failing to enforce a policy designed to track Louisville Metro Police officers who failed to appear in court and therefore neglecting to report the absences to the department.

O’Connell implemented the system after a local newspaper published a series revealing that more than 600 felony defendants were freed in one year alone because officers failed to appear for district court hearings. Initially prosecutors kept a close watch on the absent cops, but eventually they “weren’t keeping score,” O’Connell said, adding that is what ultimately resulted in Bradshaw’s termination.

Regardless of what version the public believes, this sort of turmoil and legal drama among top prosecutors is certain to have a negative impact in Kentucky’s most populous county. After all, the public pays their salary to put away the bad guys not fight each other.

source: January 2010

An uncivil action – LEO Weekly

On Jan. 5, attorney Glenda Bradshaw, head of criminal prosecutions for the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, didn’t expect that before the day ended she would be escorted out of the Hall of Justice by security. The longtime prosecutor, who had served in the county attorney’s office for 16 years, had been fired and was immediately … Continued

Source: An uncivil action – LEO Weekly

Louisville Corruption Review focuses on O’Connell 

“…O’Connell kept track of who did or did not contribute to his campaign,”

 Bradshaw also charges in her suit, filed in Jefferson Circuit Court, that County Attorney Mike O’Connell pressured some of his assistants to donate to his election campaign “or fear his wrath.”

Mike O’Connell, Jefferson County Attorney, and the Price of “Loyalty”.

by Michael Stevens
“It is money, money, money! Not ideas, not principles, but
money that reigns supreme in American politics.”
Robert C. Byrd
A recent op-ed from the Courier-Journal discussed how elected government
officials in Jefferson County have expected their employees to contribute
financially to their re-election coffers. For example, the Jefferson County
Attorney’s office seems to have a long history of expected contributions from
the attorneys working in that office going back as far as Bruce Miller.
Basically, money has been contributed over the years by attorneys employed
at the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office to assist their boss’s election efforts.
A practice that is not new, not novel, not regulated, and worse yet apparently
not acknowledged beyond a simple denial by the current occupant of that
political office – Mike O’Connell.
The Courier-Journal calls attention to this practice and asks its readers if this is what we want or
expect from a County Attorney. Whether called campaign contributions or tokens of employee
“loyalty”, should it continue?
As an Army Judge Advocate and Army Officer occupying a position of trust and public service, we
were held to a standard even higher than the criminal and ethical codes. Accepting money from
those who work for you was and is absolutely prohibited. We were expected to even avoid even
the “appearance of impropriety”.
The Jefferson County Attorney’s Office has a large staff. A very large staff with over 400 attorneys.
All of us have read the stories on how difficult it has been for government lawyers to pay their
4/6/2018 Mike O’Connell, Jefferson County Attorney, and the Price of “Loyalty”. | Kentucky Court Report 2/13
school loans and raise a family on their government salaries with some even delivering pizza on
their own time in the evenings.
Well, the Courier-Journal has issued the challenge and concluded its opionion-editorial piece with
the following:
Sometimes the Courier-Journal irritates me with the reactionary tone of their editorials and even
their stories. However, the position that the news media occupies as the “Fourth Estate” aka the
“press” can never be understated. And although everyone seems to fawn over the new digital age,
there is just some power and authority found in the written word on a piece of paper that is not
found in audio or video.
You may not always like or appreciate the stories, but most of us will acknowledge the value they
provide in accountability with the gathering of facts, interviews of those involved, and a
marshaling of all that has been accumulated with a conclusion and opinion which you can either
agree or disagree. Those of us who blog part time owe a debt to the hard work that it takes to
uncover these stories which allow bloggers like myself to throw in out two cents worth of opinion.
Thank you.
Here is the op-ed piece. Hopefully, the Courier will keep it available on-line for some time.
Mike O’Connell’s Loyal Employees
Mr. O’Connell can deny he seeks money from employees. But he can’t deny the appearance
that employees feel pressured to give.
His current fundraising may not violate the law. It may skirt the Metro ethics ordinance.
But like so many things in politics, it doesn’t pass the smell test.
So why not limit contributions from employees? Or just stop taking them?
That way his employees could devote their full loyalty to the public and keep all of their hardearned
paychecks for doing so.

Ah, for the good old days of Jefferson County politics where the “2 percent” club flourished in
local offices and employees didn’t have to wonder how much to donate to the election fund of
the boss.
Former Jefferson County Attorney J. Bruce Miller called his request for 2 percent of
employees’ pay the “Assistant County Attorney Voluntary Fund.”

4/6/2018 Mike O’Connell, Jefferson County Attorney, and the Price of “Loyalty”. | Kentucky Court Report 3/13
Posted on Friday, February 7, 2014
News: “Judicial Branch implements… COAM 2014:06 – Court of Appeals M…
Click on the above heading for the rest of the CJ Post.
Categories: Ethics, Government, Opinions and Editorials
Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are inappropriate, offensive or off-topic.
And former Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Greene made it easy by tucking envelopes into the
paycheck of each employee that bore their names and a calculation of 2 percent of their pay.
But times have changed.
Today, it seems heavy-handed, if not outright wrong, for elected bosses to suggest employees
must donate a fixed amount for the privilege of keeping their jobs.
So Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell has come up with a new euphemism for
employee support, calling it “loyalty.”
“I tell people that I hire that I seek competency, diligence and loyalty,” he told The CourierJournal’s
Andrew Wolfson. “And loyalty means they support me and this office in all things we
do, including my election.”
His staff of nearly 400, including 120 prosecutors, has been amazingly loyal, according to
campaign finance records of Mr. O’Connell, a Democrat who is running for re-election to his
second full term.
Nearly half of the $201,000 Mr. O’Connell has amassed since his last election in 2010 came
from assistant county attorneys and other employees in his office.
And this was for a race in which he didn’t even have an opponent until lawyer Karen
Faulkner stepped forward one day before last week’s filing deadline

Kentucky Judge Says Attorney’s Traffic School Can’t Dismiss 2,300 Cases

October 2, 2015


A Kentucky district court judge is challenging a county attorney’s revenue-generating traffic school in the state.

Kentucky news outlets report Judge Sean Delahanty is opposed to the operation of Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell’s traffic school which allows Louisville traffic violators to get their cases dismissed without having to pay court costs. The school, called Drive Safe Louisville, generates revenue to operate the county attorney’s office.

Delahanty has declined to dismiss charges against roughly 2,300 defendants who have graduated from the program, arguing the county attorney’s office has no right to dismiss charges without court costs also being applied.

According to reports, when the traffic program started, then-District Judge Ann Bailey Smith also declined to dismiss citations against motorists who completed the program, saying they must also pay court costs of $134. A state Supreme Court ruling filed in June, however, said Smith’s objections were rendered moot and allowed drivers to get their citations dismissed if they pay a fee and take O’Connell’s online program. The court dismissed an appeal by Smith last week.

Despite the court’s ruling, Delahanty set a Thursday hearing for five representative defendants, news outlets report. Delahanty said any order he issues will apply to all 2,300 cases that ended up in his court.

O’Connell said in court papers that the charges against all 2,300 should be dismissed based on the state Supreme Court’s ruling and added that Delahanty has no legal grounds for “cherry picking” five representatives.

According to reports, in the first 18 months of operation, 17,557 drivers completed O’Connell’s program, which generated about $2.6 million. About $1.3 million went to the county attorney’s office. The rest goes to a contractor that runs the program and to nine recipients including the state and local governments to fund local jails and other programs.