Unfortunately, we know that illegal, deadly fentanyl is all too common in Ohio – our local law enforcement must deal with it on a nearly daily basis.
And because of the massive quantity of these drugs officers are seizing, state and local testing labs are facing big backlogs. Sometimes agencies have to wait months for results, which delays officers’ work to get these deadly drugs off Ohio streets.
That’s why I joined Senator Portman and a bipartisan group of our colleagues to introduce the POWER Act. Our legislation builds on my INTERDICT Act, which President Trump signed into law this year, by giving local and state law enforcement the same access to high-tech devices that Customs and Border Protection agents use to stop fentanyl at the border, so they can safely and effectively test dangerous drugs in their own towns.
Having instant results will allow law enforcement to follow leads immediately, and improve their efforts to crack down on fentanyl trafficking. These devices will also help Ohio law enforcement more quickly notify local health departments and others that fentanyl is in a community, which can help prevent accidental overdoses. And it will allow officers to instantly identify drugs in the field, so they can follow proper safety protocol to protect themselves.
This equipment is already widely used by federal law enforcement agents – we need to give Ohio officers the same tools.
I’ve held roundtables with law enforcement and other Ohioans working to fight the addiction epidemic all over Ohio, and we worked with law enforcement organizations to develop this bill. We have the support of 13 national and state law enforcement groups, including the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association and the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) Program.
Congress needs to pass our POWER Act, so that we can get state and local law enforcement access to the high-tech devices they need to quickly and safely screen for fentanyl and other dangerous opioids.
Senator Sherrod Brown represents Ohio in the Senate and is a guest columnist.