April 02, 2019

Duckworth Helps Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Assist Law Enforcement in Investigating Fentanyl, Protecting Officers

POWER Act Helps State and Local Law Enforcement Obtain Drug Screening Devices Used by Federal Law Enforcement


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), along with 10 of their colleagues, last week in introducing bipartisan legislation to help provide state and local law enforcement with high-tech devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs like fentanyl. The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act would establish a new grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure these high-tech, portable screening devices.

“Our nation’s first responders are on the front lines of the opioid and fentanyl crises, putting themselves in harm’s way,” Duckworth said. “We need to do everything we can to help them do their jobs safely and effectively while ensuring our first responders have the resources they need to serve their communities.” 

“Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat illegal fentanyl,” said Brown. “Following our success in securing new screening devices for federal law enforcement agents earlier this year, we need to give Ohio officers the same tools to detect these dangerous drugs.”

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. 

In addition to Duckworth and Brown, the legislation is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Tom Tillis (R-NC) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

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.