Gray Death is changing police work forever - CBS46 News

Gray Death is changing police work forever

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Gone are the days when police could feel relatively safe digging around the pockets of a person they're putting under arrest.

In episodes of the TV show COPS, we watched officers grabbing drugs with their bare hands.

If there was ever a time when undercover detectives could get away with taste-testing for cocaine, like we sometimes see in the movies, that time is definitely over.

Variations of fentanyl, like Gray Death, are becoming so potent, police officers in other states are overdosing just from touching the drug, or breathing the air around it.

Today, if a police officer sees something that could even possibly be fentanyl, they have to call the crime scene van to check it out.

In places like Johns Creek, there's only one for the entire city. Once the officer finds the questionable substance, it could be another hour before the van arrives.

"It could stretch out a traffic stop a little bit more," said Cpl. Kevin Rampley

GBI officials are issuing a warning that dangerous drugs like fentanyl are now being disguised as other drugs and can't always be detected with simple field tests.

It means police officers need to go to greater lengths in every day situations.

"We have to be extra cautious in dealing with these things."

Lt. Todd Hood showed our cameras the extra protection he keeps in his patrol car all the time, a breathing mask and several pairs of latex gloves

"Probably in the past you might see officers not take those precautions, but now, every time we do a vehicle search, or a search of somebody, or a residence, it's double gloves every time for sure."

One pair is no longer enough. The new equipment is becoming standard issue with every officer's gear. The GBI advocates using eye protection and a disposable apron to keep traces of powder off clothes.

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