Phoenix law enforcement have new drug-recognition technology. The new technology is saving lives, saving taxpayer dollars, and making officers and prosecutors more efficient.
The technology is the TruNarc Handheld Narcotics Analyzer. Phoenix City Council recently approved a $533,000 contract with the manufacturer, Thermo Scientific.
While the device looks like an iPad, it costs quite a bit more, $25,000 per device. It’s a steep price, but it saves police officials $22,000 each month.
TruNarc tests drug molecules with laser technology, and it can identify over 400 compounds. However, police are only interested in of detecting 22 illegal street drugs.
In the past, drugs had to be driven to a crime lab to be tested.
“That analysis takes several days. A field test with a TruNarc takes a couple of minutes,” said Nancy Crump. She’s a forensic scientist with the Phoenix Police Department.
The device tests material within seconds and can penetrate plastic packaging or glass.
“[Officers can] test it without having to manipulate it or risk exposing himself,” said Crump.
The ability to test the substance without touching it is vital, as police officers often come into contact with fentanyl, which can be deadly.
“It’s better for officer safety from that standpoint,” said Roger Schneider, a supervisor at the forensic science lab.
Phoenix police has found over 800 cases of drugs using the device, and it frees technicians to do other things.
“It increases the efficiency that these cases are moving through the entire process,” said Crump.
“It’s the difference between writing a letter and sending an email. It’s technology,” said Crump.
Police officials plan to buy three more devices this year, and one will be used at the airport.