POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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12 P O L I C E M AY 2 019 of the unknown sample is then al- tered through unique mechanisms, resulting in the appearance of colors that correspond to a specific molec- ular structure. With aerosol solutions, an officer holds specialized paper and swipes it onto a surface or person, and then sprays the paper with a certain aero- sol product. If the paper changes col- or then it indicates trace elements of a specific drug. Similarly, there are wipes that can be swiped across a person's skin or other surface and then folded to come in contact with a chemically treated strip. Applying water to the area where the wipe and strip have made contact completes the reac- tion. If the suspected drug is present, the drug and the antibody from the strip will interact to produce a color change. Many drug testing solutions re- quire breaking ampoules contain- ing reagents so they can mix with a small amount of the unknown sub- stance. e reagents will change col- or to indicate a specific type of drug or other substance present. Handheld infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy do not use reagents. ey instead analyze how light scatters the molecules within the unknown sub- stance. Different patterns indicate dif- ferent chemical substances, including narcotics. With Raman spectroscopy, the officer holds a handheld device against the substance and emits a laser through it to scan the substance and identify it based on the spectrum it displays. Confirmatory tests such as gas chro- matography and mass spectrometry are more specific and can determine the precise identity of the substance. But these are usually done in the forensics lab. TEST CASE DetectaChem's MobileDetect Pouch is an example of a portable drug test that can be used in the field and is priced to be affordable enough for patrol use. It can be used alone or in concert with the Mobile Detect app, available for use on Android or iOS smartphones or tablets. e "pouch" is really a thick, sturdy plastic container that comes with test strips, or swabs, and ampoules built in. "Really just make sure you follow the instructions," says Giuntini of Detec- taChem. "ere's a tutorial mode in the app. It's as simple as swabbing, breaking the ampoules, and using the app. Just use the tutorial on the homescreen at least the first time or two." To use, the officer removes one swab and rubs it on a surface such as the out- side of a package containing the sub- stance to pick up a trace amount, then inserts the swab back in the pouch. e same must be done with the second swab when using the Multi-Drug Test. en the officer squeezes the pouch to break the internal seals of the test reagents and waits for the reaction to take place. e resulting colors appear through windows on the front of the pouch. "It's still a basic colorimetric test using chemistry. When you sample fentanyl, one swab will turn blue and the other orange. And when you scan the QR code that appears with the app, the algorithm will say it's fentanyl based on those two color changes," explains Giuntini. e tests can be used without the app, with a color code to compare against found on each pouch. But the app takes the guess work out of it. "e app is very specific in view- ing hues and tones to determine the color and the corresponding drug. And it puts a time and date stamp on it, and it GPS maps where you did the scan," says Giuntini. "at cre- ates a strong case of probable cause." e app automatically creates a PDF containing this information that can be sent to multiple places at once. e DetectaChem MobileDetect Pouch is available in a multi-drug test version and also in pouches that test only for individual drugs. "We always recommend they start with the multi-drug test," says Giuntini. "is single test can detect fentan- yl, heroin, other opiates, cocaine, meth, and MDMA/ecstasy for the same small price. We recommend they start there so they don't have to guess what it is. And that adds safe- ty because they only have to sample once instead of six or seven times." If you find a bag of white powder in a vehicle on a traffic stop and suspect it's drugs, you don't need to open the bag and risk a puff of it getting in the air and in your face. You can swab the lin- ing of the bag and insert the swab back in the multi-drug test pouch, squeeze to break the ampoules, and wait for a color change. But if nothing is detected using the multi-drug test, Giunini says DetectaChem's general synthetic drug test pouch can be used to detect other substances that look like white crystal- line powders. If it's a vape pen or marijuana par- aphernalia you want to test, you can use the popular THC MobileDetect Pouch, which can detect the difference between hash oil, which is legal every- where, and marijuana, which in most states is still illegal. And because every pouch is designed to protect the contents from the envi- ronment and the reagents don't activate until the ampoules are broken, they have no expiration date. ere are many products that help law enforcement test for narcotics in the field. Whatever method of identification officers choose, training is advised and it's important to take safety precautions every time. HOW TO... Small, portable presumptive drug tests allow officers to identify different narcotics on duty. PHOTO: DETECTACHEM

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