New device keeps first responders safe from dangerous drugs at crime scenes

TruNarc device uses lasers to test for drugs
Posted at 8:12 AM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 11:24:43-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV): The San Diego Sheriff's Department has a new tool to help keep deputies safe as they fight the war on drugs.

The department just bought 15 TruNarc devices. The hand-held scanners can detect and identify drugs without the deputies having to come into physical contact.

Previously, to determine what kind of drug was present at a crime scene, law enforcement would have to scoop a small amount into a kit for testing. The TruNarc uses laser technology to scan through plastic bags.

This technology has become increasingly important with the rise of drugs like Fentanyl. Just a microscopic amount can cause an overdose, which has made first responders wary of handling it.

The TruNarc can identify more than 200 different drugs and takes less than 2 minutes to complete the scan and give a presumptive result.

San Diego Sheriff's Deputies used it earlier this month when they encountered an unconscious man in San Marcos. He was covered in white powder. Deputies called for the scanner and found the powder was Fentanyl. They called for a hazmat team to clean the scene. Officials with the department say the device likely saved the man's life, as he was able to get the medical help he needed. They say it also may have saved the officers, who didn't have to touch the man or the powder until after the scene had been made safe.

The devices cost $27,400 each. A grant from the Honorary Deputy Sheriff's Association helped pay for them. One has been given to each sub-station around the county. There is also one at every jail and another at the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area office.