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Joplin Police Department Among Agencies Without Field Drug Testi - KOAM TV 7

Joplin Police Department Among Agencies Without Field Drug Testing

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

There are lots of different drug testing kits for officers out in the field..

"A lot of them are an ampoule that contains liquid with a cotton swab or fabric on one end. You break the liquid. Expose it to the substance, basically swab the substance and then you get a color change" says Captain Trevor Duncan from the Joplin Police Department.

This old way of testing put officers in more danger than they deem necessary.

"In the process of doing that, you have the potential of skin of skin contact, making those substances go air borne and different things like that"

"The hot topic in the first responder world right now is fentanyl. It can vary based on the amount of the drug you come in contact with lesser amount, lesser symptoms versus more" says the Chief Jim Furgerson from the Joplin Fire Department.

He says symptoms of coming into contact with fentanyl are dizziness, nausea, extreme sleepiness. And contact with even a small amount can cause respiratory distress, respiratory failure, and ultimately death.

Another risk officers face when coming into contact with drugs is that there are sometimes more dangerous drugs laced and hidden in others.

So the Joplin Police Department cut out that step to protect their officers.

"The substances we come across are packaged one way or another, whether they're in baggies or a syringe or whatever the case may be. So we package the substance in the packaging it's already in" says Capt. Duncan.

They now just add another bag or form of packaging around the substance and send it to the lab.

JPD says they checked with local prosecutors, and cutting out field testing doesn't delay the charging process.

"How is it packaged, what's the circumstances, where it was found, there's a lot of other factors that go into it that really essentially build the probably cause that it is a controlled substance and nothing else so that we can get those charges filed" 

Then, they let the lab do their testing, and ultimately let the court take it from there.

Joplin Police Department stopped field testing at the end of March. 

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