Rosanna Robertson, program manager at Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, Manuel Garza, acting director of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism at Customs and Border Protection and Brandon Callahan, liaison to the Office of Nation Drug Control Policy at U.S. Postal Inspection Service, discuss how government organizations are teaming up for the Opioid Detection Challenge, and how technology is being used to detect illegal drugs entering the United States.
One of the Trump administration’s top priorities has been to try and stop the opioid crisis, starting with preventing the harmful drugs from the illegally entering the country in the first place. Rosanna Robertson, Program Manager at Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, says that the White House-sponsored Opioid Detection Challenge is working to find a solution. “The Opioid Detection Challenge is an open innovation prize competition aimed at finding new solutions to find opioids in the international mail flow without interrupting the flow of commerce,” Robertson tells Government Matters. “The Department of Science and Technology Directorate has partnered with our colleagues at Customs and Border Protection and the United States Postal Inspection Service, as well as the Office of National Drug Control Policy because we have a critical role in addressing this crisis.” Brandon Callahan, liaison to the Office of Nation Drug Control Policy at U.S. Postal Inspection Service, details some of the rapid-pace technology being created that can help his organization in the future. “What we are looking for the inspection service for our agents is to have a field device that is really user friendly, it is very accurate. For us, time is of the essence,” Callahan says. “When a parcel is found that contains an illicit substance, postal inspectors, federal agents from DEA, we follow up those with our investigations, so we don’t have much time to really deal with and wait for laboratory tests to come back. Field detection equipment is the first step for us to really get that timeline anchored down.” Manuel Garza, acting director of the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism at Customs and Border Protection, explains that government agencies have been working in cohesion to work towards a common goal. “The coming together and working together as a whole in an effort to fight this epidemic has really been great. The relationship that CBP and the Postal Inspection Service has now, along with [Department of Science and Technology Directorate] and [Office of National Drug Control Policy] and the other partners, from the White House, everybody is on board with this. We are looking forward to finding a solution.”