Bill Gives DOJ Ability to Equip Local Law Enforcement with Advanced Technology

A bipartisan group of Senators has reintroduced legislation to establish a Department of Justice (DOJ) grant program to give state and local law enforcement technology capabilities similar to those available to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This technology primarily includes high-tech, portable screening devices to better detect drugs.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) noted in 2017 when the original bill was introduced, “West Virginia continues to lead the country in overdose deaths, but we are not the only state that is being forced to deal with the tragic consequences of the growing opioid epidemic... I was proud to introduce the INTERDICT Act with Senator Markey and will continue working to make sure our law enforcement professionals have the tools and resources they need to keep illicit substances out of our country and off of our streets.”

Last Congress, the House and Senate passed and the president signed into law the INTERDICT Act. This law provided CBP with an increase in chemical screening devices to interdict fentanyl, other synthetic opioids, and other narcotics and psychoactive substances that are illegally imported into the U.S.

Senator Capito has now joined U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in reintroducing the POWER Act, which originally floated through congress last year.

The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act calls for the creation of a DOJ grant program to provide state and local law enforcement the same tools at CBP for detecting and identifying dangerous drugs.

According to the West Virginia Register-Herald, suspected drugs currently must be sent to a lab for testing. This process can take months, delaying the justice system. With the POWER Act, officers would be alerted to a substance’s properties quicker, allowing them to handle the substance in a safer way.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) has explained, “"It is very important that our officers have the best technologies possible to help find drugs like fentanyl so that they aren’t distributed to West Virginians struggling with addiction.”

The POWER Act is supported by the National Sheriffs’ Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National HIDTA Directors Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, International Union of Police Associations, National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, and National Tactical Officers Association. 

Posted in Featured News


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