Phoenix Police To Get New Drug Testing Device

Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 5:17pm
Christina Estes/KJZZ
The front entrance at Phoenix police headquarters.

The Phoenix Police Department will soon have a new tool to test for illegal drugs that’s supposed to be faster and safer.

On Wednesday, the City Council approved a five-year contract worth more than $500,000 with Thermo Fisher Scientific. The company makes the TruNarc™ Handheld Narcotics Analyzer. Using laser technology, the device can reportedly identify more than 400 substances, including stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens and analgesics.

The handheld device saves time because drugs can be identified right away rather than sent to a lab. And it’s safer for officers who can scan through plastic, glass and paper rather than open a package to test a substance.

In Phoenix and across the country, law enforcement has seen an increase in fentanyl, a synthetic drug more potent than heroin, and there have been concerns about the dangers of potential exposure to first responders.

On its website, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said possible exposure routes to fentanyl can vary, but responders are most likely to encounter it in powder, tablet and liquid form. Exposure routes of greatest concern, according to the CDC, are inhalation, mucous membrane contact, ingestion and needlestick.

"Any of these exposure routes can potentially result in a variety of symptoms that can include the rapid onset of life-threatening respiratory depression. Skin contact is also a potential exposure route, but is not likely to lead to overdose unless large volumes of highly concentrated powder are encountered over an extended period of time. Brief skin contact with fentanyl or its analogues is not expected to lead to toxic effects if any visible contamination is promptly removed. There are no established federal or consensus occupational exposure limits for fentanyl or its analogues," the CDC site said. 

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