HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to the Hawaii Police Department Area II Vice Section, its officers have recovered over $2.5 million worth of fentanyl since November 2021. Big Island police are also finding it laced in marijuana and cocaine, and officers are recovering it every single day.

“It went from recovering fentanyl here and there to every search warrant we go to there’s some trace of fentanyl,” said Sgt. Chad Taniyama, Hawaii Police Department Area II Vice Section.

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Police said, in large scale fentanyl investigations, personal protective equipment is required. According to HPD, at the very minimum, officers need a special mask with a canister that purifies air. Then, if the level of danger rises, officers need to wear an air tank with a chemical suit.

“We’ve had to call Honolulu and other agencies. We’ve had people fly on personal airlines to hand us equipment so we can do our job,” said Sgt. Taniyama.

Suiting up an officer can cost up to $28,000. The PPE equipment was acquired by Big Island police in 2001 through federal funding for investigating methamphetamine labs, but that ran out in 2006. The Hawaii County Council is committed to working with HPD leadership to ensure its basic necessities are met.

Experts said, PPE is just one important asset. Fentanyl testing field kits are what officers are using to determine the initial risk level at a scene.

“It’s safety for our officers, for the community and residents of that specific area,” said Gary Yabuta, Hawaii High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Executive Director.

Meanwhile, the Maui Police Department is looking at buying TruNarc, a handheld narcotics analyzer. Officials also hope to have a uniformed state program for PPE setup in the future.

“All we have to do is transport trained officers from one island to another so we can use and share tanks. We need assets because no department alone can handle a catastrophe,” said Yabuta.

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Officials add, grants through the Hawaii Department of Health can provide some funding.