BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As Maine's drug epidemic grows, police officers are getting more sophisticated technology to fight back -- like TruNarc.
TruNarc uses laser technology to scan drugs and tell officers exactly what they are -- it can decipher more than 300 different substances in seconds. The handheld device is changing the way Bangor police officers handle illegal drug encounters on the street.
"It's easier, it's cheaper, its faster and its safer" Officer Jason McAmbley said. "The results of this test are enough for a presumptive charge".
The current procedure for drug offenders is not as efficient -- in most cases the substance would be confiscated, the offender would walk and charges would come later after testing. This also puts officers in a tough position because the drugs they're handling are getting more dangerous. Dealers are using stronger cutting agents, like fentanyl and carfentanil. The previous testing method would often force officers to come in direct contact with those deadly substances. The field test used chemical packs which change color based on the substance being put in them.
"These have exploded in people's faces -- and these are little glass viles" McAmbley said. "So now you've got flying shards of glass and who knows what chemical coming at your face at very high rate of speed". They test in two-person teams, one ready with Narcan in case of an accidental overdose.
While this method is safer, an accidental overdose is still possible. However, police believe this device can prevent deadly consequences.
"You don't have to open it up and put it in one of these things and you're testing who knows what and have to expose your self to who knows what" McAmbley said. "t really diminishes the thought that you might accidentally overdose on what you've just inhaled".
TruNarc has already been used by Bangor police over a dozen times in the field since June. Other departments across the nation have had great success with it -- they expect to see that same success in the Queen city.