POWER Act seeks to equip law enforcement with devices to detect dangerous substances
WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-7th) is tackling the fentanyl crisis. On Tuesday, she and a few of her colleagues introduced a bipartisan and bicameral bill that would help law enforcement identify dangerous substances.
It’s called the Providing Officers with Electronic Resources, or POWER, Act. It would create a new U.S. Department of Justice grant program to help state and local law enforcement agencies get their hands on high-tech, portable screening devices to identify dangerous drugs.
The devices, which are already used federally, use laser technology to catch potentially harmful substances by comparing them to a catalog of thousands of compounds that are programmed into the device. The technology can even penetrate some packaging.
Spanberger, who is a former federal agent and CIA officer who dealt with narcotics cases, recognizes the problem fentanyl is causing.
After introducing this bill, she said in a statement, "by making sure law enforcement officers have the resources and training they need, we can quickly identify when fentanyl enters an area, warn our neighbors, and build a response plan. We can protect the lives of the men and women who keep our communities safe every day."
The act, and the tech that comes with it, would also allow officers to quickly alert local health departments when such substances are found in the community. Using these devices would still be subject to Fourth Amendment restrictions on unlawful searches and seizures.