Comments about ‘Police drug search intrudes on husband's final moments with deceased wife’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 3 2013 7:10 p.m. MST

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brussels, ontario

I'm sure glad I live in Canada... The news storys every day like this one , and even the reality TV shows such as "Cops" and "48 hours" seem to point out that the U.S. is more and more becoming an authoritarian police state, with total disregard for the general public. Just last night I saw an episode of "cops" where an individual during a routine traffic stop, who was complying to everything they told him told him to do, was tazed for asking twice why he was stopped. They accused him of being "argumentive".. total crap!! Now we have this nonsense where these Veral cops feared an 80 year old man might become a drug trafficer.


vernal + govt officials = this

midvale guy

The police in this town obviously have nothing better to do. They have to take anything that will justify their jobs. Someone can even die in peace. I am sure there is a good drug problem in Vernal Utah like there is in most small towns in Utah. It's just plain ridiculous if they get away with violating people's rights. I applaud this gentleman standing up to this violation. It would be nice to see if there are any overriding facts that would give the police reasonable cause to behave in such an unprofessional and it illegal manner.


When hospice helped one of my family members, they came to the house 10 minutes later. We took all her medications and they put them into a bag with chemicals called a cake mix. It destroys the drugs and makes them safe to dispose.

Shame on Vernal.

Sacramento, CA

Seems as though this gentleman was possibly known by many in town, and some of the folks knew his wife was ill. I had colon cancer, and it's not a cakewalk, so no doubt she had a bad time of it, and my heart goes out to her husband at this time. She must have been quite a lady. These cops no doubt also knew she took meds...did they want them for themselves? They should be so ashamed of themselves, they should hang their heads and be assigned the dirtiest jobs in the place! And if they want to really make amends, do some volunteer work.

Johnny Moser
Thayne, WY

The city should be mighty glad I am not going to be on that jury. It has been awhile since we have heard about multi-million dollar settlements, but this one should end up in that story list in the future.
I would award many, many millions to this man for this.
Heads should roll in every organization even remotely involved with this incident. City Council should proactively take action with in every city organization to clear up ANY possible concept that would suggest this kind of action is acceptable behavior. They should hire a training firm to prepare extensive training for all personnel to ensure this kind of thing never happens again.

Eagle Mountain, UT

Heads need to roll on this one.


On behalf of ALL rational tax-paying citizens of the State of Utah I would like to apologize and offer my condolances to Mr. Mahaffey.

He's obviously been victimized by BOTH the initial (and probably illegal)search but also by the city goofballs he pays taxes to support.

On a lawsuit/judgment of this size, the city residents may very well wind up suffering also after THEY (through their taxes)get through paying off the lawsuit.

NO ONE is going to make up something like this.

Too bad the judgment doesn't come DIRECTLY out of the cops' pockets!

Park City, UT

Wait. So, after I DON'T use all the pills my doc puts me on for pain, the cops can just come in and take them? So, if they see me going back to work not using crutches, they'll assume I'm healed and want to come get my meds? I have some hardcore pain meds and I'm well aware of the street value. However, I PAID for these meds and may want them around for an emergency. Sure, you could say that maybe I want them to get high or whatever, but so what? Even that is still MY business! I have no issues with drugs, I'm just saying that it should be my decision as an adult to keep what I've paid for.

Sandy, UT

This is outrages, I hope he takes the city to the cleaners.This is not what this country is about. This shows just how out of control police can be.

Moab, UT

This is really a sad story. But if it happened as written, and that is pretty much the facts, then Vernal City police are nothing short of bullies. Here we are trying to teach our youth the seriousness of bullying and yet the police of Vernal (not all of you) think its ok?
Then....I can see another side of it too. Yes, I actually said that. My 22 yr. old son died in SLC, Utah from a accidental drug overdose, morphine. He bought it cheap off the street. But, there has to be a better way of drug control than what happened here?
And by the way, the police found out, most likely because Hospice notified them that the prescription drugs were in the house and the patietn died. Breach of confidentility here folks.
My mom died in the hospital, and when she did, her prescription drugs, Morphine and Xanac, was still tucked away in the nightstand. Thank goodness the police and hospice here in our local town didn't do that. I am sorry Mr. Mchaffey had to endure that trauma on top of losing his beloved wife.

Raeann Peck
Salt Lake City, UT

Truly a stunning intrusion by officials who take themselves too seriously. The medications were lawfully in this couple's home. No laws were broken and the police and government officials should be sued to protect the innocent. How insane and twisted is the reasoning of these city officials? Hope this situation draws plenty of attention and this insanity is properly resolved.


This is shoddy journalism at it's best... and the comments aren't much better. Only two people questioned the stories fact finding so far. If the story were true then perhaps there would be something to get steamed about. Not only is the article extremely one sided, several pieces of this guys story are not true. A little digging would have made that apparent. Sadly, this is why I don't read the Deseret News... a friend of mine happened to point me here. Seeing the comments I felt it worth setting you all (including the author) straight.

Cinci Man

Then why don't you set us straight. What is not true and what are the facts that are incorrectly stated?

Janesville/USA, WI

The attitudes of the City Managers and police officials are far more disturbing than the actions of this individual officer. The city manager's reading of the situation as one with an overly sensitive man would be funny if it were fiction. Exactly how does the city manager expect an 80 year old man at the side of his deceased wife in the middle of the night to react. Trust me, if he were into selling drugs he would have seen you coming and hidden them. Druggies are like that. Somehow I suspect that his thoughts were scattered and his heart was so heavy that he was having a rough time figuring out what to do next. Maybe instead of a midnight raid on this 'suspected ne'er do well' a visit from a social worker within a day or two to check on this man may have been more appropriate. When my grandmother died my grandfather was lost, and he stayed that way until his own death eight years later. 'Overly sensitive' is the most pathetic explanation possible for this man's objections to the treatment he received. Nor is it a good way to make the whole thing disappear.

salt lake, UT

Vernal police clearly violated this mans rights! And from the sound of it, this is common practice for them. Absolutely disgusting! What is our country coming to when the Gestapo can just barge in and take what they want in the name of protecting the public?
We must stand against this kind of disregard for our laws and rights!

Northville, MI

"Following the incident, Mahaffey asked Vernal city officials and police administrators why officers would search his home without a warrant. He said he was told the Utah Controlled Substances Act provides authority for the search.

According to the lawsuit, Mahaffey also said city manager Ken Bassett dismissed his concerns, saying he was "overly sensitive" and that police were just trying to protect the public from illegal use of prescription drugs."

The "War on Drugs" is just an excuse for power crazed zealots like Bassett to inflate their puny egos by committing atrocities against helpless people. At a minimum, Bassett should be fired, tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail.

Fort Washington, MD

If the police think that some Utah law gives them the right to enter a residence without a search warrant, they've got another thing coming! The U.S Constitution says otherwise! And no state, no matter what, can make a law that invalidates a Constitutional right. There was a big fight over the issue back in the 1860s, and the result was that the U.S. Constitution trumps all! I guess these puny minded cops never heard of the Civil War.


Cops have no right to come in and take these drugs without a warrant. How does this happen? Where are the rights of the husband. If cops can come take dangerous things from your house, this is a terrible precedent.

Marian Misterovich

The key to this story is that Hospice was involved. Hospice makes if very clear that they will enter the home after a hospice patient has died to remove narcotic medications and equipment. The purpose of removing the narcotics is that the prescribed patient is deceased and when a family is mourning, much damage could happen very quickly if family members were to use the drugs. My step-mother was on a methadone pump and had two children, 16 and 11, who were, rightfully so, devastated. Imagine if they had tried to take those medications. The intrusion into your home feels hasty and disrespectful at the time but the purpose of removing those medications is valid.

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