Joyce, Lamb, Brown, Cotton Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Law Enforcement Investigate Fentanyl, Protect Officers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) announced that he has joined Congressman Conor Lamb (PA-17) in reintroducing their bipartisan legislation to provide state and local law enforcement with high-tech devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs like fentanyl. The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act would establish a new grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure these high-tech, portable screening devices. Senators Sherrod Brown (OH) and Tom Cotton (AR) have introduced the legislation in the Senate.

“Last year, more Americans died of a drug overdose than ever before,” said Congressman Joyce. “This year, enough fentanyl has been seized at our southern border to kill the entire U.S. population seven times over and the DEA recently reported unprecedented quantities of counterfeit pills containing this deadly synthetic opioid in all 50 states. It’s imperative that our law enforcement officials have the tools they need to detect these dangerous drugs and get them off the streets. I’m proud to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in reintroducing this important, bipartisan bill and will continue to support our law enforcement officers as they work to protect our communities from the opioid crisis.”

“Synthetic opioids like fentanyl killed more Americans last year than ever before. Congress must work to ensure that first responders who are on the frontlines of this crisis have the tools they need to safely do their jobs,” said Congressman Conor Lamb. “I will continue to work with my colleagues across the aisle and in the Senate to pass this legislation that will protect first responders and streamline the substance testing process to provide real-time results and reduce the backlog in the legal system.”

“Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat illegal fentanyl,” said Senator Brown. “Following our success in securing new screening devices for federal law enforcement agents, we need to give Ohio officers the same tools to detect these dangerous drugs.”

“Each year, fentanyl kills tens of thousands of Americans. Our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need additional resources to target the fentanyl producers, traffickers, cartels, and other criminals who are funneling this poison across our borders and into our communities,” said Senator Cotton.

The high-tech, portable screening devices provided to local law enforcement by the POWER Act are already used by federal law enforcement to identify dangerous drugs at U.S. ports of entry. The devices use laser technology to analyze potentially harmful substances – even through some packaging – and identify those substances based on a library of thousands of compounds that are categorized within the device.

The devices would also help address the backlog of drugs awaiting laboratory identification, which will allow law enforcement to more effectively conduct drug investigations and prosecutions and crack down on drug trafficking. Without these devices, suspected drugs must be sent to labs for testing – which can take months in some cases, delaying the justice system. And because the devices can quickly and effectively alert officers to dangerous substances in the field, they also help ensure officers can test and handle substances like fentanyl safely. Instant results also allow officers to quickly alert local health departments and others when fentanyl is found in a community so they can notify known users and help prevent accidental overdoses.  

The POWER Act is supported by the National Sheriffs’ Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National HIDTA Directors Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, International Union of Police Associations, National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, and National Tactical Officers Association.

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