PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The crackdown on drugs has gotten more dangerous, especially for police officers who come into contact with potentially lethal substances like fentanyl.

But there's a high-tech tool the Phoenix Police Department is now using to protect officers and make drug arrests more efficient.

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It's called TruNarc. It's a handheld narcotics analyzer that uses laser technology to detect more than 400 different substances.

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Roger Schneider is the forensic scientist supervisor at the Phoenix Police Crime Laboratory Services Bureau.

He said the device can scan and identify a drug in a matter of minutes, without touching the drug at all.

"A lot of agencies don't want their officers testing drugs, because if you open a bag to get a sample out, and put it in a test kit, you're exposing yourself to that material," said Schneider. "With some of those materials out there, there's a big concern for officer safety."

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Just this week, the Phoenix City Council approved a five-year, $500,000 contract to allow the Phoenix Police Department to use a dozen of the drug scanners across the city, with the hopes of buying more.

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In addition to keeping officers safe, the TruNarc also speeds up the drug arrest process, allowing officers in the field to immediately identify illegal substances. That means they can write up their reports without having to drive the drug down to the crime lab to be analyzed.

According to police, not having the crime lab have to test every drug saves the city about $22,000 a month.

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"Older versions of this, they had to open the package, take a sample out, risk exposure, put in the test kit and wait for a reaction to happen," said Nancy Crump, an assistant crime lab administrator. "It's much quicker and safer."

Each TruNarc device costs around $27,000.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 


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