(Exclusive) Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg Issues Directive To Law Enforcement That DA’s Office Will No Longer Mandate ‘Field Testing’ For Drug Charges!
(HOUSTON) — A directive released by District Attorney Kim Ogg and obtained by About News informs law enforcement that as of midnight on July 15th, 2017, the Houston Police Department will be permitted to forego field testing in drug-related cases.
Field testing is a widely used method for law enforcement for the purpose of identifying what are believed to be narcotics. “The change in policy comes as a measure to ensure the safety of officers,” Ogg says in the directive. It proceeds to state that potentially lethal drugs such as Fentanyl and Carfentanil (two highly addictive narcotic medications) pose too high a risk to officer safety.
Houston Police Department’s Media Relations told About News that “due to the dangers of Fentanyl, it’s [field testing] going to be discontinued …” HPD was unable to ascertain whether the field testing rules were applicable only to Fentanyl and Carfentanil products or all drug cases across the board.
Law enforcement agencies throughout Harris County would no longer be required to perform field tests should they choose to follow the directive. Instead, new criteria would be presented to the Office of the District Attorney Intake Division, including but not limited to: contraband color, contraband texture, the presence drug-related paraphernalia, demeanor of the suspect, and prior arrests and convictions involving controlled substances of the suspect.
Field testing has often been met with criticism, as cases of false positives have led to the arrests of innocent individuals not in possession of controlled substances. These incidents have seen civilians faced with jail time, employment loss, and homelessness.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office in conjunction with Houston Police Department will be holding a press conference at 3 o’clock on Friday, July 14th to announce the changes to protocol. Click here to read the directive sent from District Attorney Kim Ogg.
Anthony Ramirez, News Correspondent for About Magazine + About News, Cade Michals contributed to this news article.