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Rubio Joins Brown, Colleagues in Reintroducing Bipartisan Bill to Help Law Enforcement Investigate Fentanyl, Protect Officers

Mar 27, 2019 | Press Releases

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to reintroduce bipartisan legislation to provide state and local law enforcement with high-tech devices that 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 (DOJ) to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure these high-tech, portable screening devices.
The POWER Act, first introduced in the 115th Congress, gives law enforcement officers access to the same high-tech screening devices Rubio, Markey, Brown, and Capito secured for Customs and Border Protection agents in the INTERDICT Act. President Trump signed the INTERDICT Act into law last year.
“We must do more to equip first responders with the tools that will protect them and ensure the public’s safety as they battle on the front lines of the opioid epidemic ravaging communities around the nation,” Rubio said. “This critical, bipartisan legislation would provide resources to local law enforcement for additional chemical screening devices that detect and interdict those dangerous substances that are destroying so many lives.”
“Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat illegal fentanyl,” Brown said. “Following our success in securing new screening devices for federal law enforcement agents last year, we need to give Ohio officers the same tools to detect these dangerous drugs.”
“Fentanyl continues to devastate families and communities in Ohio and across the country.  Congress made progress on this issue last year by passing the STOP Act and the INTERDICT Act, but we must continue to give law enforcement and other first responders the tools they need to detect and stop fentanyl and other synthetic drugs.  The POWER Act is another important step forward in this effort,” Portman said.
“As fentanyl and other synthetic opioids pour into our communities, we have a responsibility to equip our police officers with everything they require to better identify these dangerous substances and keep people safe. The POWER Act will help extend the benefit of modern, portable screening devices to our police departments on the front lines of the opioid epidemic in Colorado and across the country,” Bennet said.
“Our local law enforcement plays a vital role in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and one of the ways they are helping in these efforts is by detecting and stopping the flow of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids,” Capito said. “The POWER Act will help state and local law enforcement obtain the tools necessary to quickly detect these dangerous drugs and ultimately keep them out of communities in West Virginia and across the country. Legislation like the POWER Act can truly save lives, and I will continue working to develop and support new and innovative solutions like this one that will tackle this crisis from all angles.”
“Our nation’s first responders are on the front lines of the opioid and fentanyl crises, putting themselves in harm’s way,” Duckworth said. “We need to do everything we can to help them do their jobs safely and effectively while ensuring our first responders have the resources they need to serve their communities.”
“Colorado’s first responders are key to combatting the opioid epidemic and need the best possible tools to identify dangerous illegal synthetic drugs like fentanyl,” Gardner said. “Bipartisan legislation like the POWER Act will help our local law enforcement detect these potent drugs that have infiltrated communities across our country. I will continue working across the aisle to deliver solutions and fight back against this crisis that has claimed the lives of too many Americans.”
“Police officers, paramedics, and other first responders face tremendous danger when responding to scenes where fentanyl and other dangerous substances are present. Shielding these brave men and women in Massachusetts and across the country from these dangers as they serve and protect our communities should be our top priority. I am proud to join my colleagues on this important legislation to provide law enforcement with tools to immediately identify fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids,” Markey said.
“Our police officers and first responders are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic,” Warren said. “I’m glad to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan bill to help our law enforcement officials detect dangerous illicit substances such as fentanyl to protect themselves and others as we work to find public health solutions to this crisis.”
These devices 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 have to 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, National Association of Police Organizations, International Union of Police Associations, National Tactical Officers Association, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, and the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police.