Thursday, October 11, 2012

Alcohol & Drugs

According to this news article, the city of Memphis, Tennessee has had nineteen officers arrested for various offenses this year.  That's about 1% of the police department.  That is both good and bad news.  We should not assume that any specific officer will be found guilty.  Maybe he did not do the crime, or perhaps there will not be enough evidence to convict him.  Perhaps he will make a deal and not be convicted.  Still, that is a bad statistic to have that many officers arrested in different incidents.
Many were driving under the influence of alcohol.  This can be a department cultural problem.  Officers work hard, drink hard.  They go out to drink after their shift and then drive home intoxicated.  This can be solved in several ways.  Anyone arrested for an alcohol or drug related offense is suspended without pay until the case is resolved.  They may not carry a firearm due to their affiliation with the department during their suspension.  If they are found not guilty, they return to work.  If they are found guilty they are fired, on the first offense.  Cars and guns go with police work, but not with alcohol or drugs.
Supervisors should be trained to recognize employees with alcohol problems.  Every employee involved in a work related accident or traffic collision should be drug and alcohol tested within one hour of the accident.  Those who fail the test should be suspended and fired on the first offense.  A sample should be saved that can be tested at the expense of the employee and if the sample is found to pass, then the employee can be reinstated with full pay and benefits restored.  The testing should all be done by an independent laboratory.  In an agency that has an on-going problem with drugs and alcohol, employees should also be tested annually, randomly and also whenever there is suspicion they are under the influence.  Employees who fail the test should be suspended and fired; that's what the SGT Says.

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