Snohomish cops’ new high tech tool in the fight against drugs

Jun 19, 2019, 6:10 PM

drugs, TruNarc...

(Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)

(Photo courtesy of Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)

Snohomish County deputies are getting a new tool to help with drug investigations. TruNarc is a sensor that can identify a drug through its packaging.

This is a tool the Snohomish County Drug Task force has used for a while, but now through a recent grant they’ve been able to buy more TruNarc units so deputies on the street can have their own, and eventually Everett police.

“With the fentynal threat that we have now seen increase throughout our community, and that threat also being to our officers who handle that type of material, we were able to purchase and provide TruNarc to both the sheriff’s office and eventually to Everett PD,” said Lieutenant Robert Goetz, a member of the task force.

The task force provided training on the new device for deputies this week.

Bellingham clinic fighting opioid addiction with new treatment

“Part of our responsibility as a task force is to make sure we do our best to train our line officers in the most effective and safe way to handle suspected illegal drugs,” Goetz said.

Here’s how TruNarc works: The device points a small laser at whatever substance the deputy has found. Every chemical compound will scatter that light in a slightly different pattern. The device then compares the pattern against 250 substances in its library.

Within seconds, a screen displays whether the substance is cocaine, meth, fentanyl, etc. It will even say if it is a legal substance, such as acetaminophen.

Not only does this save the department time and money, it also preserves the evidence which can be destroyed when sent to labs for testing. But the big win here is officer safety, because the laser light can test the substance through whatever packaging it is in, like a plastic baggie, without the cop having to open it.

“We don’t have to disturb that product,” Goetz said. “So with fentynal, for instance, there’s the possibility of it becoming airborne. When fentynal becomes airborne, that’s when there’s the highest risk for our officers; the inhalation of fentynal can be really dangerous.”

Fake opioid pills flooding illicit market, laced with fentanyl

Getting this tool to deputies and Everett cops couldn’t come at a better time with meth making a big comeback over the past couple years.

“What we have seen as well is the increase of fentynal seizures, and the slight decrease in heroin seizures,” he said. “We suspect in the next couple of years we might even see a further decrease in the amount of heroin we see, and a further increase in the amount of fentynal we see.”

Goetz is not talking about medical grade, regulated fentanyl. Rather, this is synthetic fentanyl that comes in from China and Mexico. It is far more dangerous than the regulated variety. It comes to the street in a variety of forms, including fake pharmaceutical pills known as M30s or Perc30s that look exactly like a real opioid prescription from a pharmacy.

Goetz says you never know what you’re getting.

“Imagine making chocolate chip cookies,” he said. “When you put a drop of dough onto your cookie sheet, some of those cookies are going to have 10 or 12 chocolate chips, and some are going to have three of four chocolate chips. That’s kind of what it’s like with unregulated manufacturers of M30 pills.”

MyNorthwest News

Sea-Tac airport parking...

Micki Gamez

Going on a spring trip from Sea-Tac? Your car may not be there when you get back

In a recent report, Sea-Tac International Airport has seen a surge in car thefts over the past year.

2 hours ago

Brown Water...

Samantha Lomibao, KIRO 7 News

‘Brown water’ at a Tacoma school outrages parents, students

Parents are outraged in Tacoma over ‘brown water’ flowing from faucets and fountains at Birney Elementary School.

5 hours ago

Image: One person was killed and two more were injured after a kidnapping led to a crash on State R...

Sam Campbell

Woman, 83, killed, 2 more injured in crash on SR 525 involving kidnapping suspect

One person was killed and two more were injured after a kidnapping led to a crash in Snohomish County Thursday night on SR 525.

7 hours ago

Photo: Michelle Michaels holding her dog Stevie. A man allegedly shot and killed Stevie outside her...

Julia Dallas

Seattle woman grieves dog that was shot, killed while roaming outside

A Seattle woman is grieving the death of her dog after a man allegedly shot and killed the canine while it was roaming around outside last week.

21 hours ago

Image: Books at a Seattle Public Library location are shown....

Kate Stone

Staffing crisis forcing closures of Seattle Public Library locations through June

The Seattle Public Library will be closing 22 of its 27 locations for at least one day per week, amid ongoing staffing shortages.

23 hours ago

Photo: Amber, left, and Autumn working as bikini baristas in Ballard....

Bill Kaczaraba

Jack and Spike: Lattes to lingerie from a former bikini barista’s point-of-view

Selena said life as a bikini barista was "a novelty. It's fun. I very rarely had an awkward encounter." She used to work as a stripper.

24 hours ago

Snohomish cops’ new high tech tool in the fight against drugs