Although the suspension of a city employee, accused of drug possession, ends this week, he is not likely to return to work anytime soon.
Daniel Murray, 26, 224 Newton Road, remains on unpaid leave through Wednesday after being arrested Feb. 28. Murray was not formally arraigned on the charges after he opted instead to enter a drug abuse treatment program. The program, operated by Project COPE-Bridgewell of Lynn and largely paid by the state Department of Public Health, is aimed at non-violent offenders, said Carrie Kimball-Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett.
“We’re very proud of the program,” Kimball-Monahan said. She explained participants usually remain in the program an average of six months. The diversion alternative began in 2007 at two district courts and has since been expanded to all eight district courts across the county. More recently, Blodgett’s office removed age restrictions, which had limited the offering to people through their 20s. Criminal charges are dropped upon successful completion.
Since first-time, non-violent drug offenses generally do not serve prison time, some choose not to enroll in the program.
“It is easier to go through court. Treatment is very hard,” Kimball-Monahan said.
During 2016, Blodgett’s drug diversion program accepted 117 people. Of these, 13 have successfully completed it, 38 remain and the rest—66—went on to be prosecuted. The numbers are considered to be a success in drug treatment circles. Those enrolled are not expected to pay for the treatment, but some private insurances cover treatment. Services include inpatient and outpatient, but always includes regular screens to ensure compliance. “There’s a lot of support and counseling to go along with it,” she said.
An employee of the Department of Public Works, Murray was charged with possession of Percocet after being arrested in his personal vehicle.
However, the city is not bound by the decision of Haverhill District Court. The city’s standard policy is to have a hearing after the initial suspension. A hearing officer is assigned to obtain recommendations from the employee’s department head. City officials would not speak specifically about Murray’s case, citing personnel laws.
Murray was suspended five days without pay.