This online audio (Episode 41 of the Just Science podcast series) features an interview with Nancy Crump, an Assistant Crime Laboratory Administrator with the Phoenix Police Department (Arizona), who discusses the creation and operation of her agency's Field Identification Drug Officer Program (FIDO).
FIDO was instituted in the Phoenix Police Department (PPD) in 2012 in an effort to increase efficiency in the processing of drug-related cases. FIDO trains selected officers to use a portable device tested to reliably identify specific controlled substances in the field. Initially, the drug-testing device (Colormetric) could reliably identify cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana. The "Trunarc" drug-testing device, which uses Raman spectrometry, was subsequently tested and is currently being used to also identify opiates. If the field testing identifies a mixture of drugs, FIDO officers are instructed to submit the suspected sample to the lab for analysis. Approximately half of PPD's drug-related cases involve field testing. Such cases are submitted directly to the Prosecutor's Office for processing. Most of the FIDO cases are disposed with a plea negotiation. When a defendant chooses to go to trial, the FIDO drug sample is retested in the laboratory to confirm the FIDO test. Quality control of the FIDO drug-testing devices is maintained to ensure their accuracy. Those selected to be FIDO officers are trained and retrained to ensure they are properly and accurately using and reading the drug-testing device.