Arkansas ranks high, second in the nation, in drug prescriptions. As a result, the residents experience a lot of dependency and addiction issues, so ultimately the law enforcement officers and first responders often need to deal with illegal drugs.
The state’s drug director covering 71 of 75 Arkansas counties, recently spearheaded the purchase of five handheld narcotics analyzers to help law enforcement safely and quickly detect illicit drugs. The five units are spread throughout the state and allocated to the State Police, the Highway Police, the Benton Police Department and the Postal Inspectors Office. These analyzers use a laser to scan substances, which allows officers to identify a narcotic within minutes, enabling quicker arrests and the collection of evidence without the danger of being exposed to dangerous drugs.
In an overdose case, the instrument will allow officers to determine exactly what drug the person used, making it easier to get the correct treatment faster.
A recent news article reported that in 2016, approximately 400 Arkansans died from drug overdoses, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, officers had to be hospitalized because they were exposed to deadly drugs like fentanyl. (Here’s the news article: State buys 5 devices to scan drugs, keep officers safe.)
Handheld narcotics analyzers offer a presumptive test that is more accurate and reliable anywhere officers need to respond. Providing law enforcement officials a quicker method to identify suspected narcotics in the field can help keep drugs, and drug dealers, off the streets. These handheld Raman devices can identify multiple controlled substances including narcotics, fentanyl and carfentanil , synthetic drugs, cutting agents, and precursor chemicals in a single test, without direct contact for most samples.
We previously wrote about a sheriff’s department in Maryland that purchased handheld narcotics analyzers because safety of its officers was one of its top priorities, and with simple point and shoot capability – without removing the measured material from its packaging – these instruments help to keep officers safe. In fact, there are police departments across the country using narcotics analyzers in the field to help in the opioid crisis. (Here are seven police departments using narcotics analyzers that we previously mentioned.)
In nearly a decade (since 2000) deaths involving opioids has increased by 200% in the U.S. The Arkansas Take Back website notes that in Arkansas, there were 379 drug overdose deaths in 2016, which increased to 411 drug overdose deaths in 2017.
According to the website, Arkansas officials have been working hard to shrink those numbers: “In a diligent effort to significantly reduce statistics – and most important, save lives – numerous programs have been enacted through multiple partnerships and multiple programs. The programs include, but they are not limited to, the biannual Arkansas Prescription Drug Take Back Day, Naloxone kit program, Arkansas Alcohol and Drug Abuse Coordinating Council, and Community Advisory Councils throughout the state, and an Education Portal for physicians, nurses and other medical professionals.”
Now there is another way to help reduce those statistics: handheld narcotics analyzers in the hands of Arkansas officers.
Read the article: State buys 5 devices to scan drugs, keep officers safe