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Drugged Driving Certification Follies

Did you know that Maricopa County, Arizona does the training for “85 percent of all drug-recognition experts in North America”? That’s the shocker (to me, at least) in this article: RCMP halts training with U.S. force over abuse findings

Training of police officers from across Canada in drug recognition techniques has been called into question after the U.S. Department of Justice censured an Arizona-based police department that partnered with Mounties for the program.

The federal RCMP suspended the program last week after learning of allegations against the force, including racism and abuse of authority.

The allegations first surfaced when the Justice Department issued a report in mid-December outlining its findings from a civil rights violations probe into the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.

The probe found “reasonable cause to believe” the force engages in “unconstitutional policing,” including racial profiling, retaliating against people who criticized its policies and disregarding basic legal obligations.

It suggested Latinos were being unlawfully stopped, detained and arrested, and that inmates who don’t speak English were punished for failing to understand commands and refused basic services.

None of that, of course, is any surprise to me. We’ve been quite aware of the rogue nature of that particular police force and its disdain for petty niceties like individual rights or the Constitution. I just didn’t know that they were the ones training officers in drug recognition. I see articles all the time these days about a local officer somewhere having received “certification” in drugged driving assessment, and wondered who was providing this “expert” training. Now I know.

[B.C. Civil Liberties Association Executive Director David] Eby said he’s pleased with the RCMP’s swift action against the “rogue” force, and thinks it is appropriate for the Mounties to cast doubt on the adequacy of the training program.

“There’s a serious question about why those prisoners were in the lockup, given the arresting policies and procedures of this police force,” he said in an interview on Sunday. “Were the prisoners consenting to that? How did they end up in the lockup? Would they just round up a whole bunch of people during a training program?”

Eby called on the RCMP to conduct a retroactive review to ascertain whether the training officers have received can be relied upon. He also noted there may be future implications in criminal court proceedings.

He added he hopes the scenario awakens the RCMP to the risks of relying on American police as service providers.

Ain’t that the truth.

In related news

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The federal government should help police departments nationwide obtain the tools and training needed to attack a rising scourge of driving under the influence, two U.S. senators said Sunday.

Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Mark Pryor of Arkansas proposed that federal funding in a pending transportation funding bill be used for research and to train police. They said police have no equipment and few have training in identifying drugged drivers, who don’t show the same outward signs of intoxication as drunken drivers do, such as slurred speech.

I find the argument that always seems to show up in this area quite ironic — If only those people on drugs would show some sign of impairment so we could arrest them for being impaired. We know they must be impaired although we don’t have any actual data to prove it. It’s just that they’re able to hide their impairment so we can’t detect it.

Again, to reiterate what I’ve said in the past, I’m all for getting dangerous drivers off the street, and if you have a reliable way to identify impairment, I’ll support that, but if you’re arresting drivers because of the presence of drug metabolites rather than the presence of impairment, then I have a problem with it.

I don’t think it takes much special training to detect when someone is drugged up to the point of being impaired. It just takes special training to detect someone who has taken drugs but isn’t impaired in any significant way.

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31 comments to Drugged Driving Certification Follies

  • zvone

    drugs informations for those who wants to be safe.

    • gosh… that link wouldn’t be rehab spam, would it?

      • Duncan20903

        .
        .

        They are certainly a unique specimen of addictionologist if it is. Quoted from article linked in zvone’s post:

        Our principles and recommendations can be summarized as follows:

        End the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others. Challenge rather than reinforce common misconceptions about drug markets, drug use and drug dependence.

        /snip/

        It’s [nominally] a free Country. If people want to 12 step or promote 12 stepping I have no problem with it as long as they’re not trying to force people into walking their 12 step plank.

  • claygooding

    Here we go,,now comes Phillips new device,to the rescue as I have been predicting for awhile now.

    Former DEA Administrator Talley has done her job and must be frothing at the mouth for her bonus check,,well almost,,now comes getting congress to buy all those machines.

  • drugged driving remains the red herring du jour:

    more vehicles, more drivers, more miles driven, more drug users, more types of “mind-altering” drugs … meanwhile, fewer accidents and fewer fatalities. yeah, there’s a real “problem” out there alright.

    this isn’t culture war: it’s arithmetic!

  • kaptinemo

    Ever since I first heard of US cops working Canadian roads, back in the early 2000’s, I had to wonder: what bad habits were the Canadians picking up from their Ami ‘tutors’? (And why would they feel the need for any? Can’t Canada police itself?)

    Canadian police seem to be openly envious of their American counterpart’s ability to come off like fascist thugs, and want to be able to emulate them, to the point of receiving the same ill-gotten forfeited goods from innocent people. You can tell the usual creeping totalitarianism is what’s next, as we’ve seen it all before here.

    • Jose

      From the linked article above I really enjoyed this comment from the DEA spokesman:

      “We’re not in the business of scaring people.”

      But I understand,”terrorizing” and “scaring” could be considered different. However, I struggle to understand their condemnation of profit.

      • N.T. Greene

        “We’re not in the business of scaring people.”

        …however, our office is required by law to dispense what is at best misinformation and at worst sheer propaganda that flies in the face of scientific fact. Oh, and we think state power is a joke. And we think we’re above the law and can police the entire world in opposition to successful social changes.

        I think they should cop to the lesser rap of intending to “scare” people.

    • darkcycle

      They already did the deed. Intimidation is when you keep the investigation of a politician under wraps so you can threaten them with making it public. They must have met with a brick wall, so they went ahead and screwed this legislator. Probably to make a point to others who might resist. His opponent is already making the commercial: “X was under investigation by the DEA, at the SAME time X was pushing for a medical marijuana bill….do you really want X to influence school policy?”

  • Cliff

    Colorado legislature is trying again to institute a ‘per se’ cannabis impairment law after a true journalist (from Westword) took it upon himself to test the 5 ng/ml limit being proposed last year, stopping the legislation in its tracks, actually right before the vote.

    He (William Breathes, an assumed name) abstained from cannabis for over 15 hours and was deemed sober and coherent by a physician who examined him before the test. The blood test found that his blood level was 3 times the proposed limit. The 5 ng/ml impairment limit being proposed is arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.

    So, in the minds of ‘our betters’, law enforcement and an arbitrary amount of metabolytes in a person can determine sobriety better than a physician. Nice.

    Interesting side note, Coloradoans’ right to medicinal cannabis is a Constitutional right as medicinal cannabis is an amendment to the Colorado Constitution, unlike most states.

    It will be interesting to see how patients who are using a constitutionally protected medicine will be frog marched to jail for a minute amount of cannabis metabolytes in their systems, while people on mood altering and mind altering drugs and prescription pain medicines which have on label warnings not to drive or operate heavy machinery will be able to go on their merry way with no repercussions.

    I can’t wait for the law suits when illnesses or injuries are made worse or the taxpayers are on the hook for expensive medical treatments because of enthusiastic enforcement by the jack and jill boots. Unintended consequences are a vicious bitch.

  • Cold Blooded

    If they’re not actually impaired… then that’s kind of like arresting drivers for having too much blood sugar or something. “You’ve had one too many Raspberry Slurpies, sir.”

    • Bri-NylonRomperSuit

      Probably just another impaired stoner that needs to be stopped.

    • N.T. Greene

      If they’re not actually impaired, how are they getting pulled over in the first place? Are we to believe that they’re doing random drug-related stops?

      “What seems to be the problem, officer?”

      “We saw you safely driving down the road and thought you might be one of those crazy people who smokes pot instead of drinking a ton of alcohol. Step out of the vehicle.”

      (A car passes, swerving and passing into the opposing lane.)

      • Chris

        I seem to remember something saying that high drivers would swerve more, but only inside their own lane. So there’s that.

      • thelbert

        drug corridor+out of state plates=probable cause

      • Deep Dish

        There was the case of a medical marijuana patient who spent all day tending to their cultivated crops. They were incidentally, coincidentally, stopped for a minor traffic violation, for a broken tail light, but their clothes smelled of weed. Even though the patient was not impaired, the cop insisted on a test.

  • ezrydn

    Jose makes a good observation. Notice how, at the Federal level, “profit” has become a dirty word. Even candidates for office are dragging it through the mud. Can’t sell it but can’t give it away either. Do the neighborhood corner grocers get this diatribe all the time? And how are Forfieture Laws other than “profit?”

    We’re back to “because I said so.” Your product is NOT allowed to acquire profit. That’s the American Dream in action.

    • Francis

      And yet the drug warriors support the war on drugs, the policy that guarantees absolutely obscene profits from the sale of illicit drugs.

      • thelbert

        that’s a nail that we should pound on ’til the narks get it through their skulls. why do they prefer that mexican elites have more than their share of the profits. i’d say the cia must have way more power than we think.

  • claygooding

    Not a word,,and his avoidance is as good a compliment as we will get,,waiting on the opeds from allan,Belville and others that should start hitting the web in moments.

    Love this instant shit,,,

  • Bruce

    Can’t make this stuff up.
    I knew there was something oddish in my roadside treatment.
    I want my money back. Did not like my encounter with the insuffrable unaccountable ones tilt drunk impaired on their power trip egged on by the Harper Woodpecker Conservative Pea Brain Titmouse Nagger Flies.

    Will we see I.E.D.s coming to North America?
    Pass the popcorn.

  • darkcycle

    I can imagine the training. I bet they are taught to recognize impaired drivers by their brown skin and hispanic accents.

  • N.T. Greene

    I am pretty sure the only way to catch stoned drivers for sure is to pull over every person doing five miles under the speed limit (or whatever) and ask them about their taste in music.

    Every person I know who has driven stoned has actually driven pretty safe, so… I am not sure “impairment” is even the right word for it.

    But dammit, respecting the rules of the road is a serious problem. Speeding? Not yielding to pedestrians? Bah! Those dangers are pale in comparison to the sheer menace that is the late night Taco Bell run wherein you wait patiently for that stop sign to turn green.

    • darkcycle

      “I am pretty sure the only way to catch stoned drivers for sure is ot pull over every person driving five miles under the speed limit and ask them about their taste in music.”
      That’s good! Do you mind if I use that, NT?

  • Francis

    “Drugged Driving Certification” is actually not a bad idea. Let veteran tokers take a road test while stoned and demonstrate definitively that they can, in fact, drive safely after partaking. “Yes, officer, that IS cannabis you’re smelling, but it’s cool, I’ve got a Class MJ license.”

    • Servetus

      Excellent. Make it a training course that’s part of high school driver’s ed classes as well.

      We all know the little beggers are getting ripped. Why not prepare them for the road? Get them ripped and let them negotiate the cones. Or better yet, public transportation. Free bus and taxi rides for those who pass the breath test.

  • Smoke 'Em If Ya Got 'Em

    Drugs informations? Rehab is for quitters and quitters never win. Now let’s put some Hindu Kush in the grinder and ready the aqualung!