WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., this week joined several of his colleagues in introducing the “Prevent Exposure to Narcotics and Toxins (PREVENT) Act of 2022,” legislation that would help protect border patrol and other Department of Homeland Security agents from secondary exposure to dangerous drugs including synthetic opioids by providing drug containment devices and enhanced training to frontline employees.
“Synthetic opioids are wreaking havoc nationwide, and it is vital that Congress equip our law enforcement officers with the tools and training to help bring this crisis under control,” said Wicker. “Better preparing our border patrol agents to handle these deadly drugs will help to keep them safe so they can keep working to stop narcotics at the source.”
As record levels of fentanyl enter the United States through the border and ports of entry, Border Protection and other federal law enforcement agents have been tasked with the monumental challenge of intercepting these drugs before they enter our communities. This work is particularly dangerous because of the risk of first responders being accidentally exposed to narcotics and toxins.
The PREVENT Act would:
- Direct the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection to purchase containment devices, a critical tool in safely storing illicit narcotics, for all frontline border patrol agents and provide training for their effective use.
- Train officers on how to use containment devices to prevent potential synthetic opioid exposure.
Wicker previously has stood against the spread of illegal and deadly drugs at the southern border, recently cosponsoring a measure with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. aimed at upping criminal penalties on fentanyl dealers. Wicker also wrote an op-ed in the Mississippi Clarion-Ledger in October warning about the damage that fentanyl and the open southern border are doing to the state.
The PREVENT Act was introduced by Sen Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and was sponsored by Wicker, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Gary Peters, D-Mich.
The bill text is available here.