Like any other employee with immense responsibility and control of safety sensitive materials a police officer must undergo drug testing to verify their drug free status. Being aware of oneself and one’s surroundings is vital to the safety of the police officer and any civilians he or she may be responsible for at any point. This is especially true when he or she is in a position where they must use a weapon of any sort to maintain order.
Drug Testing Policy of Police Officers
Police officers are tested for the use of marijuana, cocaine, PCP, opiates, and amphetamines.
• Notice of pre-employment drug testing must be given in the materials that advertise the role of police officer and an appointment for drug testing should be made once the job has been offered to the potential employee. Employability will be determined by the results of the drug test. To become an officer one must have gotten a negative test result.
• A Dept of Health and Humans Services approved testing site will perform the testing.
• The urine specimen will be collected at a location that has been selected by the city in which the potential officer wishes to be employed.
• An FDA approved immunoassay test will be used for this initial test.
• If a test is determined as positive by this test it will be retested using GC/MS techniques.
• A Medical review officer must go over the results of the test and determine if it is in fact positive or negative by comparing it to possible positive test results that could be linked to medical reasons. This includes a discussion of the test result with the applicant, where the applicant may request a split sample test be done at another lab to verify the results.
• A positive test that is confirmed will result in rejection for employment.
• All test results will be kept in the individual’s personal medical file. Those who are rejected for employment on the basis of positive result will have their records retained for five years all who are employed will have their records retained for ten years after they leave employment.
Many police stations do not test officers after the initial pre-employment screening requirement – those that do, usually have them tested about once every two years. The exception here is any officer who has been involved in a situation where force was required to subdue the perpetrator involved. This testing is done to verify that the officer involved was totally in control of their actions and not being influenced by other factors. It is also one of several tests and counseling sessions that many police departments require in the event that force or deadly force is involved. When it is part of investigation, it is more a part of the overall evaluation and not as focused as the initial pre-employment test that all police officers undergo.
After some cases in which officers were thought to have used extreme force or were found to have been abusing illegal substances, there are now discussions about changing this policy.