For years, narcotics field tests have been notorious for sending innocent people to jail. The cheap, roadside tests have misconstrued everything from Jolly Ranchers for meth to Pop-Tart crumbs for crack cocaine. In December, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office trumpeted the arrest of 24-year-old Ross Lebeau for felony meth possession — only for the substance, stuffed inside a black sock in his trunk, to turn out to be cat litter. His dad had used the cat-litter-sock as a trick to defog the windows.
“Building your reputation takes years,” Lebeau told the Houston Press in January. “One false positive can ruin all of that.”
Now, however, in a departure from standard police practice across the nation, Houston and Harris County law enforcement agencies will permanently stop using the narcotics field tests, effective immediately.