Patrol ends field tests for drugs amid fentanyl concerns

HANNIBAL, Mo. – The Missouri State Highway Patrol has stopped field testing for illegal substances during police raids and traffic stops amid concerns about exposing troopers to fentanyl and other dangerous narcotics.

The Hannibal Courier-Post reports the patrol informed prosecutors of the change last year. The policy took effect this month.

Field testing provides immediate evidence that prosecutors can use as probable cause to file charges. Now, material is sent straight to a lab, but those results can take several weeks.

Some prosecutors worry that without immediate testing, they’ll have to delay filing charges against drug suspects.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate painkiller dangerous to the touch or even if it becomes airborne. The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a 2016 memo warning law enforcement to avoid field testing material that might contain fentanyl.