U.S. spending bill covers new narcotic detection tool for Houlton police

3 weeks ago

U.S. spending bill covers new narcotic detection tool for Houlton police |

HOULTON, Maine – The Houlton Police Department is getting a device that can detect hundreds of illicit drugs without the arresting officer touching them.

The $57,000 in federal funding, secured by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, was approved for the police department’s equipment and signed into law earlier this month.

The illicit drug detection equipment, known as TruNarc, has the ability to detect illicit drugs through packaging or a container to specifically identify the drug,” Police Chief Tim DeLuca told the Houlton Town Council on Monday night. 

According to DeLuca, the TruNarc system will be purchased and installed within the next couple weeks, following the council’s approval on Monday. 

In the past few years, there has been media coverage of police officers allegedly overdosing on fentanyl while searching a suspect for drugs. Experts say it is unlikely that fentanyl is absorbed through the skin.                                                                                                                  

The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report that testing illicit drugs while still in the packaging improves officer safety. 

The Houlton equipment includes a drug screening box that officers can use for wet drug testing to be fully protected, DeLuca said.  

“This will increase our officers’ safety in handling the substances,” DeLuca said. “The equipment package includes a ventilation system, safety gear and training.”

DeLuca said that TruNarc testing is presumptive and can be used to accurately identify substances prior to arrests, but the substance would still need to go to a lab for testing prior to a trial. 

The testing equipment will be housed at the Houlton Police Department.

Councilor Eileen McLaughlin asked DeLuca about reliability. 

“It is 99.95 percent accurate, although it needs lab confirmation for an actual trial,” he said. 

This story has been amended to include that the Congressionally Directed Funds were signed into law.