Community Issues

Lawmaker Wants Drug Detection Devices for Police

Police accidentally exposed to fentanyl can suffer near-fatal overdoses

A Pennsylvania congressman says he wants to make sure police and other emergency responders aren't exposed to dangerous drugs on the job. That's why he's introduced a bill that would create a program to help police get portable chemical-testing devices that can identify the dangerous drug fentanyl on-scene.

The Beaver County Times reports U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb has joined with U.S. Reps. David Joyce, R-Ohio, and David Trone, D-Maryland to create a grant program to help police buy the devices. The opioid crisis is affecting communities across our region and the country," said Lamb, a Democrat from Mt. Lebanon, a suburb of Pittsburgh.

"We need to make sure our local law-enforcement officers are armed with the right tools to stay safe and do their jobs effectively." U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb D-Pennsylvania

Police and first responders have suffered overdoses after unknowingly coming into contact with fentanyl when treating victims. Fentanyl is as much as 50 times more powerful than heroin, and can cause an accidental overdose just by getting it on your skin.

KGTV reports that the San Diego Sheriff's Department has purchased TruNarc (pictured above), a hand held, laser powered device that tells officers what they've found within 2 minutes. Problem is, these devices can cost $30,000 apiece. Scientists are working on a cheaper test-stripe style detector that costs only $30, but acknowledge that these devices are more for investigative purposes, not on-scene emergency detection where time is of the essence.

Legislators said the bill is supported by several law-enforcement organizations, including the National Sheriffs Association, Fraternal Order of Police and the International Union of Police Associations.

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