Briefcase-sized tool analyzes prescription pills
Investigators with the Cherokee County, Ga., Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad are testing a small piece of equipment from Centice Corp. in Morrisville, N.C., in a pilot program to see how it performs in police work. It is designed to aid law enforcement in identifying prescription pills during traffic stops and drug busts.
The squad has two investigators who focus strictly on prescription drug abuse cases. Several unlawful pain clinics that dispense pills have set up shop in the county recently. Cherokee County is located 35 miles north of Atlanta.
Here’s how the portable device works: an optical laser passes through a pill to analyze its individual chemical fingerprint. A computer then compares that fingerprint with thousands of others stored in a database. In less than 10 seconds, a match is usually found.
The Centice device has limited application in criminal investigations because results from it cannot take the place of a drug test from an approved crime lab. The unit’s test findings are not considered evidence that meet court admissibility standards. Results from the Centice unit can be used, though, to establish probable cause for an arrest. In Cherokee County, narcotics squad officers have been using the Centice unit at crime scenes in presumptive tests.
“The Cherokee narcotics squad is very excited about the product. All of the indications have been positive, and we hope to be able to get back to the Cherokee County officials in a week or 10 days with the final results of the beta test,” said Scott Albert, president and CEO of Centice.
“We’ll be working with members of the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators to potentially find other organizations that might want to work with us on some of the initial beta test sites,” Albert told Govpro.com.