Madelyn Linsenmeir's obituary, giving a face to America's ongoing opioid crisis, resonated around the country. A police chief's rebuttal is now doing the same. "Please elect this man to replace Bernie Sanders, Vermont," a journalist tweeted Wednesday after Burlington police Chief Brandon del Pozo aired his "problem" with the viral obituary in a Facebook post shared hundreds of times. "It's a much better obituary than the rest of us deserve," he wrote, per the Burlington Free Press, noting the feelings it inspired should've been felt long ago. "Why did it take a grieving relative with a good literary sense to get people to pay attention for a moment and shed a tear when nearly a quarter of a million people have already died in the same way as Maddie as this epidemic grew?"
After all, "Maddie's death was nothing special at all. It happens all the time, to people no less loved and needed and human," he wrote. Had we acted sooner, "maybe Maddie would still be here." But her death gives us "the gift of focusing our attention," Del Pozo continued, laying out steps to reduce opioid addiction deaths, from increasing access to buprenorphine, used to treat opioid addiction, to ending prosecution of addicts for misdemeanor-level drug possession. Per the Free Press, Del Pozo has received plenty of feedback, mostly words of thanks. He seems unconcerned by a few angry responses. "When the mayor hired me, one of his requirements was that he and I work together to help Burlington address the opioid crisis," he says. (A Tennessee family has been especially hard hit.)