Legislation could help reduce drug testing backlog in Ohio crimi - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Legislation could help reduce drug testing backlog in Ohio criminal cases

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

There's currently a backlog in processing cases when it comes to tackling the opioid epidemic. 

The two U.S. Senators from Ohio are pushing for funding to help law enforcement in the Valley get the tools they need to keep them safe and move convictions to the forefront.

Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman are introducing legislation that would secure 20 million dollars for law enforcement to have the same high tech equipment used at the border to detect synthetic drugs like fentanyl.

It's called Providing Officers with Electronic Resources, or POWER act for short.
 
These devices can detect traces of illicit drugs like fentanyl even if they are inside packaging. 

It's something local law enforcement has no access to because of their high cost, which is well over $50,000 per device.

"When they make arrests of someone or about to make an arrest and someone has a substance they don't really know what it is, they can test it quickly rather than tackle that substance back to the lab and not being able to make that arrest right away," said Senator Brown.

"We may be turning the corner on heroin but now we're seeing the fentanyl getting cut in cocaine, in meth. You're seeing it in these different drugs out there," said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.

There had been a backlog of cases where drugs needed to be tested in order to prosecute these drug cases. Ohio Attorney general, David Yost says the state is catching up to reduce that backlog.

 "A year ago we had a problem with that. In fact, we reduced the wait from 130-140 days down to a month. I'm very proud of our team at BCI we are getting these tests turned around and back to prosecutors so the bad guys can be prosecuted in court," said Yost.

If congress passes the measure, law enforcement agencies could apply for grants that would cover the drug detecting equipment.

The equipment could potentially clear up what backlog is left in Columbus.

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