Synthetic drugs are changing how officers do their jobs - WNEM TV 5

Synthetic drugs are changing how officers do their jobs

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MID-MICHIGAN (WNEM) -

A new synthetic street drug is changing the way police officers do their jobs.

Elaine Dougherty is with the Michigan State Police forensic lab in Bridgeport.

She tests drugs to figure out exactly what they are made of.

She said dangerous opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil, commonly sold as heroin, are a new threat.

“Instead of having a known hazard for what you’re working with all of a sudden it’s an unknown hazard. You don’t know if your hazard is nothing or if it’s something that could kill you if you inhale it,” Dougherty said.

Fentanyl, which is used in end of life care, is typically given to cancer patients for pain.

Just a small amount, even absorbed through the skin can be deadly.

According to Dougherty, carfentanil is more than 10,000 times stronger than morphine and is most likely produced in labs in Mexico or China.

Sergeant Duane Zook with the Michigan State Police said there has been an uptick in fentanyl and carfentanil in the Flint area.

He said it has now become standard to use every precaution in situations where drugs are present.

“If they believe something is an illegal narcotic and they want to seize that and take it in as evidence they have to put on gloves. They have to seal it properly. We do not want any troopers field testing narcotics anymore that are powder in nature because of carfentanil it’s so potent it can be deadly,” Zook said.

He said officers across the country have gotten sick because of these drugs.

Dougherty hopes police can get these drugs off the streets and do it carefully.

“Officers understand how dangerous this is. There are some officers who still don’t take this very seriously,” said Dougherty.

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