Hutchinson police lenient on fentanyl test strips

Hutchinson chief of police opinion on Fentanyl test strips
Hutchinson chief of police opinion on Fentanyl test strips(KWCH)
Published: May. 20, 2022 at 4:33 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas legislature classifies fentanyl test strips as drug paraphernalia, meaning police could charge you if they are found in your possession.

However, Hutchinson police chief Jeffrey Hooper says charging people for possession of fentanyl test strips will only lead to more overdose deaths and believes that test strips are essential to help prevent accidental overdoses.

He recently told the Hutchinson City Council he would not press charges against those found carrying the strips.

“Typically, they’re being used because somebody wants to test the substance they’re putting in their body to make sure they don’t die,” said Hooper. “Sure, I can understand why the law exists, but I believe that the safety and well-being of our community and their citizens come first, and if there’s something out there that can help save lives, then I think that we should support that.”

In his 31 years in law enforcement, he has seen too many people who’ve taken counterfeit pills, not knowing they’re laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl.

“So, somebody’s thinks they’re taking oxycodone and then it, but they take oxycodone laced with fentanyl and if they had fentanyl test strips, they could test it and if they found out that they wouldn’t ingest it,” said Hooper. “Human life and the safety of our community outweighs a minor criminal charge, and I want our citizens to know that we protect human life, and they shouldn’t be afraid of law-enforcement action.”

He says he is shocked with the amount of attention his comment received but is glad he can put a spotlight on a growing issue.

Advocates have pushed the Kansas legislature to change the law surrounding fentanyl test strips. Lawmakers did consider the measure this session but the bill stalled in the state senate after republicans blocked the bill.

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