Spotlight: SwabTek's tests provide a simple and safe means to presumptively field test for threat compounds, narcotics and explosives by police

The company's test kits were first designed as an alternative to traditional threat detection technologies

Company name: SwabTek
Headquarters: San Diego, Calif.
Signature Product: Test kits for narcotics and explosives detection

1. Where did your company name originate from?

SwabTek is named after the novel, swab-based delivery of our color chemistry, threat detection tests.

2. What was the inspiration behind starting your company?

SwabTek's test kits were first designed as a safe, simple and inexpensive alternative to traditional threat detection technologies. Many presumptive field tests rely on hazardous acids and liquid toxins, and complicated procedures involving breakable glass ampoules. Instead, SwabTek has replaced these dangerous and cumbersome components with dry-printed chemistry that is safer and easier to use than the alternatives.

3. What is your signature product and how does it work?

Our three most popular test kits are tests for fentanyl, cannabis and liquid explosives. The tests all work similarly, allowing the tester to use a swab to collect residue from surfaces and samples. The sample is then combined with a dry printed reagent on a test card and a color change indicates a positive result for the presence of the target compound.

4. Why do you believe your products are essential to the police community?

SwabTek's tests provide a simple and safe means to presumptively field test for threat compounds by police, corrections, and critical government agencies such as postal inspection, transportation security and border control. SwabTek's tests provide a means to detect potential chemicals of harm such as fentanyl and explosives for all of those mentioned above, as well as EMS and fire.

5. What has been the biggest challenge your company has faced?

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for the company. SwabTek was able to continue to serve our customers by helping to source, and donating, PPE to frontline public servants across the country.

6. What makes your company unique?

In an industry that has been stagnant for decades, SwabTek is committed to bringing technological advancements to presumptive field testing. All of the major presumptive field tests on the market rely on the same chemicals and testing procedures, packaged in different ways. Since there have been no other entrants to the market, incumbents have not taken steps to address many of the concerns that have troubled law enforcement personnel for years. Instead, SwabTek's tests are free of the hazardous acids and glass components that have consistently posed a threat to law enforcement users. SwabTek is committed to putting officers first, prioritizing safety and ease of use for all of our new products.

7. What do your customers like best about you and your products?

Customers like how simple, safe and efficient the SwabTek test kits are. SwabTek also makes it easy, efficient, and affordable to equip and train new officers with test kits by offering free certification online and personalized live or livestreamed training.

8. What is the most rewarding part of serving the first responder community?

The most rewarding part of serving the first responder community is hearing how our products are helping them do their jobs more simply and, most importantly, more safely. Officers who use SwabTek's products commend our commitment to officer safety and helping them do their jobs better.

9. Do you support any charitable organizations within public safety/community? Tell us more.

We have worked very closely with the National Sheriffs' Association in the past on a number of programs to help provide PPE and other equipment to sheriffs across the country.

10. Is there any fun fact or trivia that you'd like to share about you or your company?

SwabTek's Cannabis Test kit is extremely popular for use in schools by school resource officers and school faculty. The tests are in use by over 1,000 schools as a means to test vape pens and edibles for cannabis. The test was even featured on the Today Show's Rossen Report in the early days of the company.

11. What's next for your company? Any upcoming new projects or initiatives?

SwabTek continues to work with our customers to help develop novel solutions to solve problems they face with forensics and testing in the field. Our company is relatively small, so we are able to flexibly respond to demand from law enforcement, as the narcotics and explosives landscapes change. Each of the tests in our latest line of tests was designed based on feedback and demand we received directly from local, state, and federal law enforcement organizations. Our Gunshot Residue test was designed in response to a request for a simpler way to test for GSR in the field, and our General Narcotics test was designed for the corrections market in response to demand for a way to test incoming mail infused with synthetic cannabinoids (K2 & Spice).

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