West Virginia Struggles with Deadly New Opioids
Suzanne Bell, director of the West Virginia University Department of Forensic and Investigative Science, is on the frontline of West Virginia’s opioid crisis, and the news she has is unsettling.
“In the field, typically officers in the past would have a color change agent of some type … and if there’s a suspicious powder they would test it,” Bell said. “It wasn’t meant to be definitive. It was just meant to give them an idea of … do I have probable cause. Can’t do that anymore, because this stuff is too dangerous.”
In fact, the new opioids are so dangerous that even police dogs are being killed as they investigate crime scenes. “A lot of dogs are being killed by this because they affect them the same way,” Bell said. “So they can’t let the dogs sniff out drug evidence like they did before.”
Bell also explained how a wave of new and deadly compounds from overseas is overwhelming toxicology labs around the country.
“We literally can’t keep up,” Bell said. “Can’t keep up with the compounds, can’t keep up with the dead and the dying, and we can’t keep up with the new standards that we need. It’s affecting every aspect of typical forensic chemistry.”
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To read more about how high tech drugs from overseas are overwhelming public health officials, visit The Register-Herald.