Download production-quality b-roll of screening device demonstration HERE.
YOUNGSTOWN, OH – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) joined Youngstown Police Chief Robin Lees and Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Green as he reintroduces his bipartisan bill to provide Ohio law enforcement officers with high-tech devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs like fentanyl. The POWER Act is cosponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH).
The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources, or POWER Act, gives Ohio law enforcement officers access to the same high-tech screening devices Brown secured for Customs and Border Protection agents in his INTERDICT Act. President Trump signed the INTERDICT Act into law last year.
“Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat illegal fentanyl,” said Senator Brown. “Following our success in securing new screening devices for federal law enforcement agents last year, we need to give Ohio officers the same tools to detect these dangerous drugs.”
Brown’s office worked closely with state and federal law enforcement to craft the POWER Act. Brown was joined today by Chief Lees and Sheriff Green to discuss efforts by law enforcement to combat the opioid epidemic in Ohio and how handheld screening devices would help officers on the front lines of this crisis.
“Our officers are on the front lines working to keep dangerous drugs out of our communities. The POWER Act would help us more efficiently conduct drug investigations while also alerting our officers about dangerous substances in the field quickly so they can take every precaution necessary. I’m hopeful Congress will pass this bipartisan bill soon,” said Chief Lees.
“Sheriff Jerry Greene of Mahoning County, Ohio would like to extend his gratitude to Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and all other U.S. Senators who supported legislation known as the Power Act. The Power Act will serve as an invaluable resource to our first responders as it will enable state and local law enforcement organizations to apply for grants monies to be used to purchase high-tech, portable screening devices known as interdiction devices. These Interdiction devices are designed to detect the presence of illicit drugs such as fentanyl and to further prevent first responders from exposure,” said Sheriff Greene’s office.
These devices are already used by federal law enforcement to identify dangerous drugs at U.S. ports of entry. The devices use laser technology to analyze potentially harmful substances - even through some packaging - and identify those substances based on a library of thousands of compounds that are categorized within the device.
The devices would also help address the backlog of drugs awaiting laboratory identification which will allow law enforcement to more effectively conduct drug investigations and prosecutions and crack down on drug trafficking. Without these devices, suspected drugs have to be sent to labs for testing - which can take months in some cases, delaying the justice system. And because the devices can quickly and effectively alert officers to dangerous substances in the field, they also help ensure officers can test and handle substances like fentanyl safely.
Instant results also allow officers to quickly alert local health departments and others when fentanyl is found in a community so they can notify known users and help prevent accidental overdoses.
The POWER Act is supported by the National Sheriffs’ Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police Major Cities Chiefs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National HIDTA Directors Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, International Union of Police Associations, National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, and National Tactical Officers Association.