One machine helps Saratoga County identify hundreds of drugs in minutes

A life saving machine to fight the drug epidemic

One small machine is helping officers in Saratoga County identify hundreds of drugs in minutes!

The county said it’s not just another tool in their arsenal, it can help them save lives. 

13 Investigates explained why the drug epidemic is reaching new heights; even a captain with the sheriff’s office says he can’t keep up with all the overdoses.

The county’s new technology helped speed up the process of finding out what drugs almost killed a high school teenager. 

“It was quite an eye-opener, to say the least,” Captain Dan Morley said. “Somebody almost died.” 

Captain Morley works for the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. He said Narcan was given to a student after two altered vapes were confiscated at a Saratoga County school last December. 

“If somebody wasn’t there with Narcan, it might be a very different story.”

A fentanyl precursor, ecstasy, and Vyvanse: all drugs found in both vapes. Thanks to the spectrometer.

“It is a small compact machine that uses infrared light to determine the components of the substance and it can give us results in a couple of minutes!” Erin Murray said.

Murray, the Supervising Epidemiologist at the county health department, said the spectrometer only needs a drug sample the size of half a grain of rice.

“The spectrometer that we have here can be used to test a potential adulterated vape, we can use this to test substances that are found at overdose scenes. The data we’re getting from the spectrometer will help us understand the composition of our local drug supply. It’s going to feed our substance use surveillance system and really help us identify emerging trends.” 

Saratoga County has been using the spectrometer since last year.

“We know that illicit drugs are adulterated with things like fentanyl and xylazine and they’re nearly impossible to detect without testing a substance,” Murray said. 

The spectrometer gives the county preliminary results. Those results are usually then sent to the state for another round of tests for confirmation, which can take months. 

Captain Morley said the spectrometer is their secret weapon.

“In this situation, we’re able to get an idea of what’s in our drug supply a lot quicker and it’s an invaluable thing to us because we can utilize the information immediately,” Morley said. 

Saratoga County has taken immense steps to reduce the drug problem that’s devastated families. The county reports overdose deaths were down by 19% in 2023 because of several initiatives.

You can track overdoses and drug use in the county on its dashboard: Https://