The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a strong warning Tuesday to local law enforcement agencies across the country about the dangers of fentanyl exposure.
Manchester police and DEA agents in the Northeast say this has been a present danger for at least two years.
First it was heroin, then fentanyl, and now, the elephant tranquilizer, carfentanil.
“We’re having to do things differently than we’ve ever done it before,” explained Assistant DEA Special Agent in Charge of the Manchester District Jon DeLena.
Delena says his DEA agents in the Northeast have been battling the drug epidemic on the front lines for years.
“We know that we have been at the tip of the spear when it comes to fentanyl crisis,” he said. “That’s in terms of problem and in terms of solution and how we’re reacting to it.”
In Washington, DC Tuesday - The Drug enforcement administration released a video warning agencies across the country of what our local departments already know – that exposure to fentanyl could cause an overdose and even death.
“I think it’s an important message to give out, but this is something that we have been working on for the past 18 months,” explained Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard.
Willard says he started making changes almost two years ago when he invested in Tactical ID, a laser drug identification system.
“And there, I didn’t have to touch it, and it’s in its original packaging,” said Sgt. Chris Biron as he showed us the device.
It allows officers to field test drugs without manipulating them in the old test tube kits, eliminating possible exposure to drugs as harmful as carfentanil.
“If you get it on your skin, the smallest amount will subject the officer to an overdose,” Sgt. Biron said.
“We want to make sure awareness is out there, that all law enforcement from the biggest city to the most rural understand how dangerous this stuff can be,” said Agent DeLena.
Right now, the chief says he’s searching for functional street gloves for officers that would protect against needle pricks. He says there’s currently nothing like that on the market.