WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, yesterday cosponsored bipartisan legislation to provide law enforcement officers with better technology to detect and identify synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act establishes a new grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice to give state and local law enforcement officers access to the same high-tech screening devices that Senator Hassan helped secure for Customs and Broder Protection agents through the bipartisan INTERDICT Act that was signed into law last year.
“Our law enforcement officers in New Hampshire are on the front lines of the fentanyl crisis, and this important bipartisan bill will help ensure that they have access to the cutting-edge technology they need to detect and identify fentanyl so that they can keep our communities, and themselves, safe,” Senator Hassan said.
The screening devices use laser technology to analyze potentially harmful substances – even through some packaging – and identify those substances based on a library of thousands of compounds that are categorized within the device. The devices would also help address the backlog of drugs awaiting laboratory identification, which will allow law enforcement to more effectively conduct drug investigations and prosecutions and crack down on drug trafficking. Without these devices, suspected drugs have to be sent to labs for testing – which can take months in some cases, delaying the justice system. Because the devices can quickly and effectively alert officers to dangerous substances in the field, they also help ensure officers can test and handle substances like fentanyl safely. Instant results also allow officers to quickly alert local health departments and others when fentanyl is found in a community so they can notify known users and help prevent accidental overdoses.
Senator Hassan recently returned from China, where she met with government officials to discuss how to strengthen efforts to combat fentanyl trafficking that contributes to the opioid crisis in New Hampshire and across the country.