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Lesson # 13: Drug Field Testing


Material for a 2-hour practical lesson, part of the Drug Investigation Course, developed by the Kosovo Police Service School


Police officers, during their routine or investigations will come across material that they may suspect of being illegal drugs. Under no circumstances should the officer try and determine that the substances are narcotics by tasting. This is done only in the movies. What you suspect that is drugs, might be poisons.

Most narcotic drugs, with the exception of Marihuana and some of the commercially manufactured tablets and capsules, cannot be identified by visual inspection. For example, white powder can be a combination of many ingredients, the same with liquid and unmarked tablets or capsules of different sizes and shapes .The purpose of the drug testing kits is to give the police probable cause or reasonable suspicion to believe that the seized material is in fact a narcotic drug. These kits contain a series of different chemical reagents designed to determine whether the suspected material is likely to be a specific narcotic. Again, this is only a presumptive test and is not enough to convict in a court of law.. Special attention will be paid to the safety techniques, when using the chemicals in the kits.

Professional knowledge and practical experience could give you a clue whether the seized substance is drug-related, and even form the general idea about the type of the seized narcotic substance. However, the drug-identification procedure requires the more precise chemical analysis of the suspected samples. In case, the fundamental precise analysis in the sophisticated forensic lab is not available, the drug field test kits are to be used.

The purpose of this practical exercise is to introduce Police officers to the special drug field test kits. The participants will learn how to use different chemicals in the drug test kit to detect different drugs, and will learn methods of visual interpretation of the results of the specific drugs’ staining.

At the conclusion of this lesson, participants will be able to:

  1. Know how to use the special set of color-coded chemical reagent for testing the suspected drug.
  2. Know what safety precautions are necessary when using the chemicals in the kit.
  3. To testify as to the results of the test.