Preliminary Drug Identification: Field Investigation Drug Officer Program

Fentanyl warning! There is a significant threat to law enforcement personnel, and other first responders, who may come in contact with fentanyl and other fentanyl‐related substances through routine law enforcement, emergency or life‐saving activities. Since fentanyl can be ingested orally, inhaled through the nose or mouth, or absorbed through the skin or eyes, any substance suspected to contain fentanyl should be treated with extreme caution as exposure to a small amount can lead to significant health‐related complications, respiratory depression, or death.  From Fentany: A Briefing Guide for First Responders (pdf, 20 pages), U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.  

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Overwhelming drug investigation caseloads have affected the efficiency of the entire criminal justice system. As a result, many cases are not prosecuted in a reasonable timeframe or are dismissed due to lack of timely sample analysis.

The Field Investigation Drug Officer (FIDO) program was developed to streamline the adjudication process and reduce backlogged investigations by training law enforcement officers to handle straightforward drug possession cases at the investigative level.

The FIDO program allows certified law enforcement officers to provide immediate, preliminary drug identification of marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, reducing the need for extensive laboratory analysis. The field tests conducted by law enforcement could factor into obtaining an immediate plea agreement, facilitating case adjudication in a preliminary phase. Cases proceeding to trial would be submitted to a laboratory for complete analysis.

Implementing the Field Investigation Drug Officer Program

Think Locally

Always remember that individual departmental polices and jurisdictional legal requirements should be closely reviewed for their impact on this program.

The implementation of the FIDO program is dependent upon several factors and decisions to be made by the agency, including:

  • Level of program implementation based upon the needs of the agency.
  • Assignment of administrator(s).
  • Understanding of the effect of jurisdictional legal constraints.

The National Forensic Science Technology Center, with funding from NIJ, developed documentation, guidance and training materials to help agencies implement the FIDO program.

Documents and Guidance — FIDO program documentation and training materials are available for download in a .zip file. Once downloaded, review the "Read Me First" file to learn how the documentation is structured and where to begin.

The FDIO program documents consist of:

  • FIDO User Guide
  • Summary of the Program
  • Training Elements
  • Prototype Forms
  • References

Download FIDO documentation (zip, 55.3 MB).

Transition Workshop — NIJ and the National Forensic Science Technology Center hosted and recorded a workshop to provide the student with the tools to initiate a FIDO Program in their own jurisdiction. Access the FIDO Program WorkshopExit Notice.

Point of Contact

Gerald LaPorte, Forensic Policy Program Manager
(202) 305-1106