FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday night authorized buying equipment for the Police and Fire Rescue departments.

The board approved spending $6,200 from the Police Drug Reserve Account for a TactiScan portable narcotics screening device and $756 for the annual fee to maintain the database.

“Really it is an officer safety issue,” Police Chief Kenneth Charles said.

When drugs or narcotics are seized, there are two ways officers determine if drugs are involved: admission by the suspect or conducting a chemical test, he said. Officers have to scoop out a little of the product to do the test. “Obviously we don’t want to expose our officers or anyone else,” he said.

“The TactiScan is essentially a spectrometer, uses a light beam passing through and is able to identify what the substance is,” he said. “There is no hands on, no taking (the drug) out of the bag, no exposing people. It is much safer.”

Selectman Joshua Bell asked if the device needs to be calibrated for cases that go to court.


It doesn’t, Charles said. “If a case is going to go to court, then we send the drug to the state lab.”

TactiScan has been on the market for at least 10 years and is produced by a European company that began expanding to the Unites States last year, he said.

Similar to an old-style radar gun, the device is about the size of two cellphones.

Selectmen also approved a $71,428.57 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for firefighters’ gear and authorized spending $3,571.43 from the Fire Rescue Department Equipment Reserve Account to meet the required 5% match. The money will pay to replace the self-contained breathing apparatus compressor and fill station.

“The current system was purchased in 2004. For the last year and a half we have had some issues with it,” Chief Timothy “TD” Hardy said. “Earlier this year, we applied for a FEMA grant to update it. We were notified the end of the week that we received the grant.”

The department will develop specifications and send bid requests.

In other business, a proposal to allow employees to work four, 10-hour days was tabled until after a new town manager is hired.

As proposed, employees could choose to work 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday or Tuesday through Friday. Two employees would work each four-day schedule. The office would be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, an hour earlier than now, which would provide five additional hours of customer service each week.

The office staff developed the proposal, interim Town Manager Stephen Eldridge said, and he recommended waiting until after the new town manager is hired and all staff has time to discuss the proposal more.

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