Pinellas deputies will get devices to field-test drugs like fentanyl without touching
The Pinellas sheriff’s office told county commissioners there have been several incidents in which deputies have been exposed to harmful narcotics. The TruNarc analyzers cost $25,000 each.
Pinellas County will spend $625,000 on technology that allows sheriff’s deputies to field-test suspected drugs without touching them.
During a meeting Tuesday, county commissioners approved a consent item that lets the sheriff's office buy 25 TruNarc devices at a cost of $25,000 each.
The analyzers use lasers to determine what makes up substances such as the drugs while in a container. The tests are legally required to confirm an item is a controlled substance prior to making an arrest, according to the commission agenda.
The sheriff’s office has told commissioners there have been several incidents in which deputies have been exposed to harmful narcotics, including the potentially fatal fentanyl.
Some researchers say that the risk first responders face from fentanyl through skin contact or by inhaling it is low. Sheriff Bob Gualtieri calls those findings "ridiculous," telling the Tampa Bay Times the reason they're buying the devices is because he “doesn't want a dead deputy.”
The money was approved, without comment, as an amendment for the county’s 2023 fiscal budget.
Health News Florida's Mark Schreiner contributed to this report.