New instrument gives police heads up in searches

Authored by Jim Langham on Mar 22, 2013

Thanks to a donation from the county’s Substance Abuse Awareness Council, the Berne Police Department is able to purchase a new hand held device that can be used for field testing of chemicals, explosive devices, various drugs and gunshot residue.
The device, known as an “X-cat,” speeds up the process in discovering the presence of such drugs as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine and Sudafed – base drugs from which the manufacturing of meth is extracted.
It also assists in detecting the presence of bath salts, cocaine, crack cocaine and heroin, commented Berne officer Earl Hough, who assists in uncovering various types of drug activity in the community.
“If we felt there was an explosive device made somewhere or was somewhere present, this device would zero in on it,” said Hough.
“Evidence from it cannot be used in court, but it is useful in initially establishing probable cause,” Hough said.
Hough told members of the Substance Abuse Awareness Council that cost of the instrument is $1,895 while replacement kits would cost $237 for a total purchase price of $2,152.
Of that amount, members of the SAAC Committee agreed to fund $1,600 of the cost, with the remaining amount coming from other sources.
Hough said that the process involved the use of swabs to be used on hands in the detection of meth.
“There are five tests that can assist in leading to the establishment of probable cause,” said Hough. “Tests would then be submitted to the Fort Wayne post for actual testing.
“SAAC has been so generous over the years. Any time we ask for money, SAAC has always donated what it could,” added Hough. “This will be a major contribution to our fight of the war on drugs in the local level.”
State Senator Travis Holdman and Representative Matt Lehman told a group of local residents at a press conference last Saturday that state legislators are looking over legislation currently that will tighten the sale of drugs that could be used for meth production.
Hough said that this device would be of major assistance in cracking down on such drugs.

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