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) â€” 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.