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Guide for the Selection of Drug Detectors for Law Enforcement Applications



Alim A. Fatah


This document surveys the field of contraband drug detection, with emphasis on different types of drug detection methods available and current commercial sources for detection equipment. The introduction includes background information on the problem of contraband drugs in the United States, the various applications of drug detection, and a discussion of considerations that are important in choosing a drug detection system. Key factors that should always be considered in selecting a drug detection system include (but are not necessarily limited to) the following: purchase cost; maintenance costs; throughput rate (related to screening speed); sensitivity of the system to different types of drugs; system portability; ease of use, including training and maintenance requirements; associated safety and environmental issues; and if the system is to be used to screen people, human factors that might interfere with use of the system, such as invasion of privacy concerns. Above all, it is important to bear in mind the specific applications for which the system will be used, such as whether it will be used primarily for checkpoint screening or for more wider-ranging searches or whether it will be used primarily for screening people, hand-carried articles, mail, vehicles, or some other type of item. Prior to making a purchase, it is highly recommended that buyers consult with product vendors and, if possible, with a neutral party that has expertise in the area of contraband drug detection.
NIJ Guide 601-00


applications, commercial, drug detectors, law enforcement, selection criteria, survey


Fatah, A. (2000), Guide for the Selection of Drug Detectors for Law Enforcement Applications, NIJ Guide 601-00 (Accessed June 16, 2024)


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Created August 1, 2000, Updated February 19, 2017