Pinning down a deadly recipe

It was just another sunny afternoon in the cruiser until you found yourself investigating a woman who is literally clawing at her own skin. On the ground you note a container with a white substance has fallen from her bag. Based on what you know, is...


“First and foremost, what we like about it, is it is safe.” Detective Brian Coen of the Quincy (Mass.) Police Department Drug Control Unit has been privy to TruNarc for 18 months of beta testing before its official launch in February this year. “With this device we don’t have to be exposed to most substances.”

Ever had a bag of white powder thrown at you while a fellow officer asks, “What’s this?” With TruNarc there’s no need to wonder what sorts of particles are hitchhiking their way home to the family.

Report results are time and date stamped and saved on the system. At the end of a shift officers can download the data onto a software program and print off reports. Documentation like this is a boon to both law enforcement and experts in court.

Say goodbye to the middle men

No more the days of handling a sample, schlepping it to the lab and awaiting results. Imagine a buy-bust operation where you can very quickly identify what a substance is. Cocaine? Bath salt? Benzacane? With this information, law enforcers and detectives can potentially save weeks, if not months, tangled up in an investigation.

“It’s a pretty exciting time to be using a device like this,” says Coen. The community of Quincy has particular struggles with opium addiction—namely oxycodone—which often leads to heroin addiction. Since his department has been using TruNarc (the PD has three), Coen says they’ve had zero false positives.

The product and its possibilities hits close to home for Coen. In 2009’s Melendez-Diaz vs. Massachusetts case the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it a violation of the Sixth Amendment for a prosecutor to submit a chemical drug test report without the testimony of a person who physically performed the test. Coen hopes TruNarc’s Raman Spectroscopy technology can help nudge them over that hurdle.

“I know I’m putting the cart before the horse, but we’re hoping for a confirmatory down the road;” says Coen. “I really believe that this has the potential to get us there.”

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