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Idaho's law enforcement agencies on lookout for fentanyl after Ohio officer's accidental overdose

Posted at 3:50 PM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 19:28:30-04

Heroin and opioid addiction is increasingly deadly thanks to the rise in the use of the painkiller fentanyl. 

Fentanyl is threatening the safety of police and first responders. 

In Ohio, a police officer was hospitalized after simply touching the drug.

"Unfortunately, with fentanyl, it's trans-dermal and goes right through the skin," Sgt. Tim Riha with the Nampa Police Dept. said.

In Idaho, law enforcement officials say coming into contact with drugs like fentanyl is an increasing concern.

"It is definitely becoming a very, very big issue, and it will eventually make its way here and become more prominent, especially since it is cut with heroin, and heroin is a huge epidemic nationwide," Idaho State Police Trooper Steven Farley said. 

Local agencies have procedures in place for drug-related searches.

"We always search with gloves on and always search in pairs," Farley said. 

Officers often wait to test suspicious substances instead of completing a field test on site at a drug bust. 

"That's what we'll do if it means we all get home at the end of the night," Farley said. "That's the most important thing."

But, as was the case in Ohio, even the slightest oversight in procedure can have devastating effects.

"Two grains of salt can be a lethal dose of fentanyl," Farley said.

Through the rise in the use of fentanyl poses a risk to officers, it can be even more dangerous for those unknowingly taking it as a drug. 

"We're seeing things with street names that are being labeled 'gray death' that have fentanyl, heroin, and other substances in them," Farley said.

"There have been cases in other states where persons have laced these drugs or other pills... and you think you're buying a codeine pill or something like that and then it is actually laced," Riha said. "Because there's no quality control on it, who knows exactly what drug you're taking and how much."