Ask any officer what a NIK kit is… and they’ll most likely tell you they’ve got them in the cruiser.

But with the fentanyl crisis exploding across America, and the “war on drugs” turning more into the “legalizing drug-use in some states”…. is it getting the job done anymore?

Everyone knows that the opioid crisis in America has skyrocketed, and with new, stronger synthetic painkillers being created every day the threat increases.  Fentanyl analogues can be thousands of times the strength of heroin.  So how can officers help curb the threat… if at all? And is there any way they can protect themselves during raids?

fentanyl

A pound of pure Fentanyl contains enough doses to kill 220,000 people. (DetectaChem Inc.)

The major problem with fentanyl, other than its extreme potency, is that it is nearly impossible for dealers to correctly measure and dilute it while cutting it into quantities for street-level dealing.

The addict ends up with inconsistent potency levels, thus greatly increasing the chance of an overdose. Basic fentanyl standard is approved by the FDA and can legally be prescribed for pain, but thousands of pounds of vastly more potent illicit analogues like fluorofentanyl, acetyl fentanyl and carfentanil are flowing in through our borders. The DEA maintains that as little as 2 milligrams of pure fentanyl can be enough to kill a user.

In 2016, over 42,000 deaths were attributed to opioid overdoses, with nearly half of that number directly related to fentanyl. In 2017, the average life expectancy in the U.S. has decreased for the first time in decades due to opioid-related deaths. This is likely going to be the same for 2018 unfortunately.

Greg Giuntini is on the front lines working with local, state and federal agencies helping to develop products that that easily detect low levels on fentanyl residue which can help reduce first responder exposure. Greg works for DetectaChem Inc. These guys have developed field-testing kits that are not only inexpensive (read: about the same price as NIK kits), but are safer and more accurate than the current standard.

With a normal kit, officers need a sizeable testing sample to properly identify the substance in question. This obviously creates exposure risks, and with Fentanyl being cut into street drugs daily, the officers typically don’t know what they’re working with. Officers have since been trained not to touch or expose themselves to any white powders. When it comes to testing, that can be difficult.

Fentanyl

Police can now test unknown substances with far less risk of exposure.

All cops have to do with the MobileDetect kits is swab on or around the container, snap the swab into place and click down on the kit to begin the test. After they scan the QR code with the free MobileDetect app, the information is transferred ontotheir smartphone.

“The MobileDetect Multi Drug Test can provide fentanyl detection on a smartphone with a consumable that costs under $3.50. MobileDetect delivers a proven, low-cost fentanyl detection solution that can be used for border interdiction, illicit lab remediation, anti-terrorism task forces and more.”

But the threat doesn’t just stop at law enforcement and drug users. There is an increasing risk that the substance could potentially be weaponized and unleashed on the public.

“Fentanyl has been weaponized before in Moscow in 2002 when Chechen separatists held 850 hostages at the Dubrovka Theater,” says Giuntini. “The Russian military pumped an aerosolized fentanyl through the ventilation system with the intent to incapacitate everyone in the theater in order to safely remove the hostages while suppressing the Chechens. However, the concentration was miscalculated and was far too potent resulting in the deaths of all terrorists and as many as 130 hostages.”

“A kilo of pure carfentanil attached to a drone is a legitimate CWA threat. If slits or holes were cut in the kilo and then flown through a crowded enclosed public space like a subway station or shopping mall, there would be a mass exposure almost certainly resulting in numerous fatalities.”

It’s time to address the threat head on. It’s time to stop these substances from flowing through our borders. It’s time to change the script.