Jon and Jennifer Epstein received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award on Friday for their efforts to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl following the overdose death of their 18-year-old son in December 2020.
Cal, the Washington County couple’s son, died on his way home from college during winter break. Cal didn’t know that the OxyContin he bought on the black market contained fentanyl, a painkiller up to 100 times stronger than morphine. His parents found him unconscious in his bed, a packet of blue pills marked M30 nearby.
For the past two years, they have worked to honor their son’s memory by warning the public – especially young people and parents – about the dangers of fentanyl in counterfeit pills. Jennifer Epstein is now Director of Outreach and Education for Song for Charlie, a family-run nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about fake fentanyl pills. Jon Epstein is a member of the nonprofit’s advisory board.
“You not only inspire me as a veteran FBI agent, but you inspire me as a parent. I know you do this for so many others in the community,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the Oregon FBI, who presented the award at FBI Headquarters in Portland.
Ramsey said the couple’s “sense of urgency” was evident and the FBI wanted to recognize them for what they had already done to combat drug addiction and the distribution of fake drugs.
The Epsteins spoke at schools in 12 states, met with lawmakers, spent hours researching Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, made public service outreach videos and supported other parents mourning the loss. of their children because of the same scourge of fentanyl. They worked with the Beaverton School District and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to develop a “Fake & Fatal” campaign, about the deadly danger of taking just one pill.
Jon Epstein said he and his wife were “deeply, deeply grateful and humbled” by the recognition. He and Jennifer Epstein thanked others who suffered similar losses and stood with them.
“We hope that all of you and the media will continue to raise awareness of this danger so that our children who don’t know about it can be informed and make better choices,” Jon Epstein said.
The FBI also honored Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell with its Law Enforcement Ethics Award.
Ramsey called Lovell’s integrity “ironclad” and noted that he had to “navigate monumental challenge after monumental challenge”.
Since Lovell became chief in June 2020, the city has faced significant civil unrest, budget challenges, and record shootings and homicides.
“Nevertheless, the chef maintained his reputation as a listener,” Ramsey said.
Lovell was a police lieutenant when Mayor Ted Wheeler hired him to serve as chief, after then-chief Jami Resch abruptly resigned, shortly after receiving a caustic letter from black community leaders who criticized her for having an all-white staff.
The office has suffered a record number of retirements and resignations in recent years, has 87 vacancies and is not in compliance with the city’s 2014 settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice, which demanded a slew of training, policy and oversight reforms to stem excessive force being used against people with mental illness.
Mayor Wheeler, who spoke at the ceremony, said Lovell treated everyone with respect, even those who had disrespected him. Wheeler said Lovell reminded him of his father in that “he leads quietly, he leads with integrity and he doesn’t care who gets credit for the hard work he does.”
Seven federal prosecutors also received exemplary service awards: Lewis Burkhart, Mira Chernick, Craig Gabriel, Scott Kerin, Williams Narus, Peter Sax and Jeff Sweet.
Send an e-mail to [email protected] ; 503-221-8212
Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian
Our journalism needs your support. Please subscribe today at OregonLive.com/subscribe
. FBI honors couple county Washington for his dedication awareness of dangers fentanyl sequel death his son