(Christian County, 01/26/18) Citing threats to law enforcement's safety, the Missouri State Highway Patrol will no longer perform drug tests in the field.
KRBK spoke to Christian County's Sheriff Office in light of the recent move to protect authorities and their families from exposure to dangerous drugs.
Missouri State Highway Patrol have abandoned a longstanding practice of spot testing drugs found during traffic stops out of fear that troopers may be exposed to the synthetic painkiller Fentanyl.
"I think it's their obligation to minimize the liability and minimize placing people lives in danger, explains Sheriff Brad Cole, Christian County's Sheriff Office.
The opioid epidemic is changing the way police and sheriff brad cole handle and test illegal drugs.
"Honestly I would say we do a field test probably at least once a day sometime during the day at the sheriff''s office."
Cole says it’s critical that deputies be made aware of new and potentially dangerous drugs.
"We teach our deputies to air on the side of caution. If you come across something that you're not quite sure what you're looking at don't deal with it. Call someone that has special training and will send someone to the scene and they'll collect it"
Christian county sheriff's Office will continue to field test drugs for now, but they are exercising additional caution.
"We try to protect ourselves as well protect the public. The last thing we want to do have a deputy or someone in the public exposed to something like fentanyl that can be fatal in a matter of seconds."
Prosecutors say the shift away from field tests means law enforcement authorities will rely even more on the state crime lab, adding to the agency’s testing backlog and potentially delaying some drug investigations.
"Anytime that you can reduce your liability or exposure to a deputy or an officer we want to look at doing that."
Springfield Police Department and the Greene County Sheriff's Office says they are also looking to follow the highway patrols guidelines with how they pursue field drug testing.