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State purchases handheld device to identify drugs on the spot

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Every day, law enforcement officers across the state come in contact with illegal drugs. More times than not, it's unknown what those drugs exactly are until it's sent to the lab.

But thanks to new technology, officers will now able to identify them in less than 2 minutes. It's a simple-to-use device called the TruNarc. It's handheld and uses laser technology to identify between hundreds of different drugs. "I just hold the dope, the bag, the substance, the product, whatever you want to call it. You hold it up to it, and it's going to start analyzing," said instructor Russell Johnson.

The TruNarc filters through a library of 450 different types of drugs. It can identify any illegal substance based on the chemical compound and does it within 90 seconds. Arkansas drug director Kirk Lane said, "Here, it's a one-stop shop. You shoot the laser through it, and it's going to tell you right there what it is." And they say it's 100% accurate and fool-proof.

Johnson added,"It's taking out that element of he said, she said. And it's safe because i don't have to handle it at all because it reads through the container." It's all the more necessary with the presence of the dangerous synthetic opioid fentanyl on the streets. There have been multiple instances of Arkansas law enforcement officers needing medical attention after handling unknown drugs. "Now, if we get enough of these on the street, you don't have that fear. But more importantly, it's exactly knowing what you're dealing with," said Lane.

Right now, there are only 5 in Arkansas, but they will be spread throughout the state focusing on major highways. Each TruNarc cost the state $29,000, and they were able to pay for it through the special state asset forfeiture fund . The devices will be allocated to the State Police, Highway Police, Postal Inspectors Office, and the Benton Police Department.

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