Houston police chief suspends field-testing of narcotics

HOUSTON – The Harris County District Attorney's Office, the Houston Police Department and at least a dozen other law enforcement agencies will no longer conduct narcotics field testing.

Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo made the announcement at a press conference on Friday.

"Effective tonight at midnight, we will not be testing, field-testing, narcotics and narcotics arrests," he said.

Officers will no longer test drugs in the field because officials say they could overdose while doing their jobs.

The decision comes after the district attorney's office says officers seized 11 kilos of the synthetic opioid fentanyl in the last 60 days.

Fentanyl is reportedly 40 to 50 times stronger than heroin.

"It's an extremely dangerous substance. There have been cases where officers are on the side of the road and they have merely opened up a bag to field-test it and the action of closing the bag has forced up enough air that contained that substance that sent the officer into overdose mode and started shutting his system down," Paul Fortenberry, with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, said.

According to officials, if an officer stops a person on the road or in the street and sees what he or she believes is an illegal drug or drugs, that officer could arrest that person and they could remain in jail while the substance is sent to a lab to be tested.

HPD said testing could take between 10 to 15 days and may be expedited.

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