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Fentanyl "Scanners" Could Help Protect CNY Police from Lethal Drug

Scott Willis

Law enforcement in Onondaga County might soon have access to a new tool to detect Fentanyl. The very powerful and addictive drug is often laced with other drugs such as heroin, crystal meth, oxycontin and others to give addicts a stronger high. Senator Chuck Schumer says the device is similar to a hand-held scanner.

“It can detect not only fentanyl but 30 other drugs. And it’s so sensitive, that it can actually detect fentanyl that’s in a pill container. So that’s the great news. The bad news is, they cost about $80,000 each.”

That’s where the $20 million POWER Act comes in. Schumer says department of justice grants will cover 80 to 90 percent of the cost of the devices.  DeWitt Police Chief John Anton says they’d likely only need one for officers dispatched to one of the many hotels in the town where overdoses often occur.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick greets Senator Chuck Schumer as he arrives in DeWitt. Both grew up in Brooklyn.

“If the person’s lying on the floor, we have to administer first aid, CPR and naloxone. To have these devices ready there, and if we have drugs lying around before our evidence technicians can secure that stuff and glove up and put masks on, it would be huge to know what we’re dealing with.”

Last year alone, Anton says they had 52 overdose calls in DeWitt. Senator Schumer hopes the bipartisan POWER ACT can pass in the next few months. 

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at