TOLEDO (WTOL) - Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-OH, joined Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp in Toledo Friday to lay out a federal bipartisan bill he is supporting aimed at fighting the drug epidemic.
One of law enforcement officers on the front lines of the drug epidemic main challenges is dealing with unknown substances that have the potential to threaten people’s lives just by touching the skin or entering the lung.
Brown’s proposed legislation would alleviate that problem by giving Ohio’s state and local officers drug screening devices.
“It’s dangerous for officers to come into contact with this, and to have these handheld devices ... to be able to immediately know what the substance is and then make the arrest accordingly, rather then sending it back to the lab and then finding the suspect,” Brown said.
More often than not, a backlog of drugs awaiting lab identification can delay arrests and prosecutions.
These screening devices would immediately identify the drugs, alerting our officers of dangerous substances in the field. They would also be able to identify explosives, so bomb squads would only have to be called in to deactivate instead of identify.
“We can scan that, and within seconds find out exactly what it is that we have on our hands. And we can properly charge. If we charge somebody with cocaine and we find out later that it’s heroin, we have it wrong, so we have to refile. So the hands of justice then are moving slowly," Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp said.
The POWER Act would establish 20 million dollars in grant funding through the U.S. Department of Justice, and local and state law enforcement could then apply for the grants to obtain these high tech devices.
Tharp said he hopes to outfit deputies on the road with the devices if President Trump signs the act into law.