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Schumer discusses new tech to aid police fighting opioid epidemic

March 19, 2019 09:38 AM

ALBANY – U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York was in Albany Monday to talk about new technology that will help keep law enforcement safe while fighting the opioid crisis.

Schumer said there have been more than 200 opioid deaths in the Capital Region since 2016.

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“The epidemic, we're far from out of it, it’s bad,” said Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple.

Schumer announced his support for a bipartisan bill that is set to be introduced called the “Providing Officers with Electronic Resources" (POWER) Act. It would provide law enforcement departments grant money through the U.S. Department of Justice, so they can purchase new portable screening devices that quickly identify dangerous drugs when they’re out on a call.

“Right now, without the scanners, they have to go through all kinds of protocols,” said Schumer. “It slows down police work, makes it harder to get the bad guys, but it also makes it more dangerous.”

Apple said the son-in-law of a local judge is a Vermont state trooper and overdosed while out on a call this weekend.

“He searched the car and he barely got back to the station and he called for help and they were able to revive him. "He doesn't remember anything after getting back to the station," said Apple.

Apple said drugs lije fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than heroin, is now being mixed in with other drugs.

"They’re mixing things now that we can’t even keep up with,” said Sheriff Apple.

He said having a portable device to detect what drugs are at a scene will be helpful.

“You’re not going to be able to do it on every single vehicle stop, but you know what based on some of our training and the mannerism and the behavior that some people have when they’re addicted and operating under the influence display, we could take a quick hit and see yup alright there’s a presence let’s back out let’s put on a suit, a mask and let’s search the car,” said Apple.

One device costs around $80,000. Schumer is hoping to make $100 million in grant money available.

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Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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