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Lankford Works to Enhance Law Enforcement’s Fentanyl Detection Capabilities

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX), Jon Ossoff (D-GA), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) introduced the Detection Equipment and Technology Evaluation to Counter the Threat of (DETECT) Fentanyl and Xylazine Actwhich would authorize the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct research and development, testing, and evaluation on equipment that would help law enforcement better detect fentanyl and other drugs:

“For anyone outside of the Washington, DC beltway, there is no doubt that the border is in chaos,” said Lankford.“Besides a record number of illegal border crossers being released into the country with no idea who they are, where they are from, or where they are going, the crisis has also resulted in massive amounts of fentanyl coming into our country, which has been deadly to many communities across the US. Sadly, Oklahoma is no stranger to the terrible impact of fentanyl. We are calling on DHS to stop illegal immigration and develop a new way to detect, stop, and investigate fentanyl trafficking into the US. This is one step in stopping the chaos, but one that will have a huge impact on our communities and families.”

“Fentanyl is an unyielding silent killer that lurks in the shadows of our communities, and we must prepare law enforcement to root it out and stop the loss of more innocent lives,” said Cornyn. “This legislation will ensure our brave men and women in uniform have every available tool to safely identify these deadly drugs and help put a stop to this devastating epidemic.”

“Illegal fentanyl trafficking is devastating Georgia families and putting our kids at risk,” said Ossoff. “This is why alongside Senators Cornyn, Lankford, and Sinema, we are introducing this bipartisan bill to strengthen detection and prevention of fentanyl trafficking.”

“Over half of the fentanyl coming into the US comes through Arizona,” said Sinema. “Our bipartisan bill will help stop this dangerous flow of drugs by supplying law enforcement with new tools to detect opioids and crack down on the trafficking of fentanyl.”

Background:

Established in 2003, the Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is the research and development arm of DHS tasked with providing evidence-based scientific and technical expertise to inform policies that address a broad spectrum of current and emerging threats, from sexual abuse to natural disasters to narcotics. S&T has an opioid detection research program, but it is not explicitly set up by law.

The DETECT Fentanyl and Xylazine Act would:

  • Create a new statutory responsibility for S&T to carry out research, development, testing, evaluation, and cost-benefit analysis to improve the safety, effectiveness, and efficiency of drug detection equipment and reference libraries used by federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to identify unknown substances;
  • Establish three focus areas with flexibility to adopt other focuses in the future:
    • Portable detection equipment that requires only minimal handling of sample; 
    • Equipment that can separate complex mixtures with low concentrations of drugs and high concentrations of cutting agents into component parts to enable detection; and
    • Technologies that use AI and machine learning to predict whether a substance is a controlled substance analogue or other new psychoactive substance not yet included in a reference library.
  • Require S&T to follow the recommendations, guidelines, and best practices set out in the federal government’s Artificial Intelligence Risk Management Framework; and
  • Direct S&T to look to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s State and Territory Report on Enduring and Emerging Threats in establishing priorities.

The DETECT Fentanyl and Xylazine Act is endorsed by the National Association of Police Organizations, National Border Patrol Council, National Narcotic Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, National HIDTA Directors Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Sergeants Benevolent NYPD, National Treasury Employees Union, and Shatterpoof.

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