police sergeant: choses SUICIDE over going to JAIL ?

UPDATE: Hagerstown police sergeant who faced drug charges dies by suicide


A Hagerstown police sergeant scheduled to be in court next week on charges that he stole drugs on multiple occasions has died by suicide, according to Police Chief Paul Kifer.

Sgt. Christopher Barnett, 45, of Three Springs, Pa., was charged in February with taking three pills from a disabled woman at Potomac Towers on Jan. 30, according to court documents. The theft allegedly took place when Barnett went to her apartment to inquire about another person.

Barnett was later charged in a 10-count indictment with other criminal offenses.

“I see this as another tragedy of the opioid crisis,” Kifer said Thursday. “Chris was a valued and highly respected officer during his time here. Unfortunately, he fell victim to an opioid addiction, which caused him to make some poor decisions.”

Kifer said he did not have many details regarding Barnett’s death. The department generally does not comment on suicides, and this one happened in another jurisdiction, he said.

Barnett’s attorney and the coroner’s office in Huntingdon County, Pa., couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday and Thursday. Pennsylvania State Police in Huntingdon County had no additional information on Wednesday when word began to spread about Barnett’s death.

A member of the department since 2002, Barnett was promoted to sergeant in 2012, Kifer said. Barnett was on unpaid administrative leave at the time of his death.

Barnett was initially charged in February after the woman at Potomac Towers discovered some of her pills were missing after Barnett left, and called police. Barnett later showed up at the woman’s apartment, offering her four pills of a higher dosage and $30.

Barnett’s effort to replace the drugs and buy the woman’s silence was caught on a video camera set up by a friend in the woman’s apartment, authorities have said. It was later turned over to the police.

A grand jury indicted Barnett on 10 counts, including five counts of malfeasance in office, theft of $100 to $1,500, obtaining the property of a vulnerable adult, two counts of possession of Oxycodone and one count of distribution of Oxycodone.

The indictment included allegations that Barnett on Dec. 18, 2017, took 20 morphine tablets from a department “take-back box to offer for trade to a third party.” The box is for people to drop off unused and potentially dangerous medications, former Police Chief Victor Brito said earlier this year.

The indictment further alleged that Barnett, on the same day, offered to trade a bag of suspected crack cocaine “recovered during the course of his police duties” to a third party, although the trade did not take place.

The indictment also charges Barnett with obtaining a controlled dangerous substance from a person while on duty on Jan. 9.

Kifer said Barnett might have become addicted to prescription pain medications as a result of a back injury and a subsequent hand injury, both of which occurred several years ago.

The criminal accusations against Barnett should not erase people’s memories of the good Barnett did for the city, Kifer said.

“Chris was the kind of person who would literally pay money out of his own pocket to put a homeless family up in a hotel” or buy a meal for someone, he said. He knew of several such instances when Barnett stepped in to help someone in need.

“That’s the kind of guy Chris was,” Kifer said. “The entire HPD family is saddened by his death.”

Among his duties, Kifer said, Barnett ran the department’s Civil Disorder Unit, which was deployed to Baltimore during the riots following the death of Freddie Gray.

“Chris was a really good officer and his heart was in the right place,” the chief said. The criminal charges shocked the department.

“Our condolences go out to Chris’s family and his friends,” Kifer said.

Barnett was scheduled to be in circuit court on Tuesday for a trial, according to online court records.

“We anticipate at this point moving to abate or dismiss the charges,” State’s Attorney Charles P. Strong said.

7 Responses

  1. Once again…..suicide is is in relationship with a person with an overall very good record of service in the chosen field of remaining self sufficient, responsible and be a professional at his chosen job in life. An injury or disease comes into a persons “normal” life and everything changes……with intractable, severe pain. Injury or diagnosed disease that will never stop creating pain. Obviously there is a correlation between suicide and un managed, lifetime, severe pain even by those deemed VERY responsible and yet the “experts” in the field of pain management can NOT or will not connect the dots and “try” to imagine themselves in the same situation.

  2. It strikes me that the man was most likely in some degree of pain with his personal injuries of his back and hand and in these days and times our pain from injuries and or disease cause us to use bad judgement in the effort to remain employed, active, responsible to those he cared about……I don’t know. I wish I were articulate enough to write about the emotion involved with trying to manage lifetime, incurable pain to those living mostly pain free lives…….for now. There are many different degrees of pain experience and so there “should” be different degrees of pain management. To simply place ALL people into the same level, category of pain management with medication when all other pain management therapies have failed is asinine. Pain management is as complex as the different personalities in people we encounter on a daily basis. The war on pain has to stop. Pain management patients are as different from those unfortunate enough to have become addicted on opiates/opioids in combination with different substances, especially distilled alcohol as the difference between night and day. Unfortunately lifetime, incurable, severe pain management is NOT able to be articulated very well or at least not well enough to non lifetime pain management patients so they can fully understand what life is like in severe, continuous pain.IF we the patients could perform the Vulcan mind meld with non pain management patients they would VERY quickly understand why we will continue to fight for a basic human necessity of being treated with Opiates IF that is what it takes to live somewhat “normally”.

  3. This is a prime example of the damage caused by extemeism!This should NEVER have happened.Now we have lost a valuable member of society.How many more?

  4. This is sad and the rates of this type of incident seems to have tripled this year. The public, in turn, needs to “Help in keeping them safe” by mandating regular and random drug screens of all Law and Gov’t. personnel. Especially DEA and any in potential abuse situations. I understand some Law enforcement agencies have exempted themselves from such practice, with the help of their Unions. The drug screens would be a valuable “tool” for public safety and security and an effective abuse deterrent prescription for our Law enforcement community.

  5. Obviously a bad cop, period! No pain to speak of. Stealing evidence. Crack cocaine. This guy probably has stashed money along with stashed drugs. People like him have made it difficult for nillions that folliw the rules

    • It appears this officer became addicted. After back and hand injuries.

      • Really ,”Hope,”,,,exactly how is being in forced physical pain via our government corruption,bigotry,prejudice , breaking the law,constitution,bill of rights,Disability laws and the founding fathers Declaration of Independendence,,,exactly how is being put in forced physical pain via denial of access to effective medicines to lessen his forced physical pain,,,being soooo desperate to end his physical pain,,he does this,,,How is that being an addict?????exactly what do u Dr.Hope,,,believe an addict is???maryw

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