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  • Writer's pictureJoe Lyons


Combating Drug Addiction in Ashland County

What is the “Game Changer?” It is called “MX908 Handheld Mass Spectrometer for Trace Vapor Detection”

The Ashland County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, UH Samaritan Foundation, Ashland County Community Foundation, James and Barbara Chandler, and local Law Enforcement leaders held a press conference today at 1:30pm, at UH Samaritan, at 663 East Main Street, in Ashland to talk about the new technology soon to be utilized by our local Law Enforcement, in combating drugs in Ashland County.

“The MX908 is a handheld machine that can be used by local officers to identify suspected narcotics in minutes.” Ashland County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher R. Tunnell said, “The report it generates is laboratory quality and fully admissible in every court. This level of innovation at the local level will revolutionize the way we as a community respond to illegal drugs.”

“To understand why this is such a huge game changer, you need to understand the hole in our current system. Law enforcement and the mental health community have had a long-standing partnership when it comes to the drug epidemic in Ashland County. Appleseed and ACCADA have placed on-site resources inside the Ashland County Jail,” Commented Tunnell.

Tunnell went on to say, “Those agencies coordinate care with the jail's medical staff, which consists of around the clock nursing staff and a supervising physician. The jail serves as the initial point of contact for the vast majority of addicts in Ashland. They are detoxed in a controlled setting, under appropriate medical care. There are also linkage programs that put them in touch with recovery services both in and out of jail.”

“Currently, laboratory confirmation of the suspected narcotics is needed to maintain a criminal charge. The substances we see on the street are so corrupted with all the things dealers add to extend the product, the presumptive testing officers could conduct is often not reliable. In short, we don't know what is in the bag of drugs and neither do the addicts.” Tunnell explained. “If we arrest the suspect, the clock begins to run on an evidentiary hearing at which the State must present evidence to sustain the charge. We can't carry that burden of proof in the absence of a lab report. In our large quantity cases (quantity of drugs are in excess of the bulk amount), we do have the ability to prioritize the testing within the time frame for the evidentiary hearing. We are immediately arresting those folks and initiating prosecution. Those are almost always people who are dealing. It's the day to day addicts who carry just enough to use that this machine concerns. The "low level" cases.”

“Those lab reports take four weeks to six months to complete. Officers who come into contact with the suspects relieve them of the suspected drugs, but must release the suspect so as not to trigger the court clock. Those addicts are asked to attend treatment of course, but there isn't any mandatory motivation brought by the criminal justice system until the labs return. In the meantime they continue doing what they do.

Unfortunately, the bulk of non-drug crimes are committed by exactly these people. That's to say nothing of concerns about the suspect's health or the ongoing impact addiction has on their families.” Tunnell Concluded with, “This machine, on site in Ashland, used by officers from every agency countywide, would allow the immediate arrest of the suspect, the immediate end of doing what they do, the immediate entry into a controlled environment where they can receive both help and consequence. The presence of an MX908 would make an immediate and lasting impact on every citizen in Ashland County.”

Tunnell announced that generous donations from UH Samaritan Foundation, ACCF, and the James and Barbara Chandler Charitable Fund have been made to the Prosecutor’s Office, for the acquisition and deployment of a MX908.


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