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Accidental overdoses could prompt Muncie officers to stop field testing drugs

MUNCIE, Ind. -- After reports of police officers around the Midwest accidentally overdosing, police in Muncie are being asked to stop field testing drugs.

Muncie Police Chief Joe Winkle said the request came from Delaware County Prosecutor Jeff Arnold. Right now, there's no mandate requiring local law enforcement to stop testing drugs, but departments are being requested to do so for safety precautions.

Last month, an Ohio police officer accidentally overdosed by touching fentanyl. Now, reports indicate a new drug that could be resistant to naloxone is making its way into states bordering Indiana.

"You kinda hope it doesn't reach home. It’s one of those things and now it’s just about anywhere," Chief Winkle said.

Right now, Muncie police officers use a test tube kit on scene to determine what chemicals could be in drugs they find. Indiana State Police use a scanner and laser system to find specific chemicals. That system doesn't require bags to be opened.

"Just the actual handling of the baggies that this heroin and when it’s laced with the carfentanyl, just the touch of it can absorb in your skin and cause a terrible reaction," said Chief Winkle. "I don’t even know if the surgical gloves themselves are good enough to stop it."

Chief Winkle said he planned to look into grants that could allow them to purchase scanners with laser testing, however, he said they are expensive and it could take months before any grant might be approved. In the meantime, he's asking officers to be aware when searching and even asking suspects to empty their own pockets.