Last year a story on local CBS site brought my attention to the Drug Recognition Expert program being run by the federal government. It’s an interesting program that involves police officers actually giving illicit drugs to volunteers and studying their reactions:
Police can easily pull over and pick up drunk drivers. But pinpointing drivers on drugs is another story.
When an erratic driver doesn’t show any trace of alcohol on a breathalyzer, police need expert training to tell if they are high on something else. That’s why police recently requested a whole new set of recruits — drug users.
Officers from all over the state have come to Minneapolis’ Fifth Precinct for two weeks of intense training that will certify them as one of Minnesota’s Drug Recognition Experts.
“It’s not your typical police-subject interaction,” said Sgt. Don Marose of the Minnesota State Patrol, who trains officers for the state’s DRE program.
He said the program is nationally recognized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and has been in Minnesota since 1991. Marose said since then, 190 officers at 85 Minnesota agencies are drug-recognition trained officers at their departments.
Marose said when the State Patrol needed a real-life laboratory, the Minnesota Aids Project, Needle Exchange program, helped out.
The organization put out an ad to its clients, many who use drugs. It asked them to show up under the influence — and get rewards and incentives in return.
I didn’t look too much into it as I couldn’t really find much about it. Am I surprised the police are giving drugs to people? No. So why did I bother writing this post? Because it seems members of Minnesota’s finest are now recruiting OccupyMN potesters for this study:
A video report put together by local independent media activists and members of Communities United Against Police Brutality finds that police officers and county deputies have been giving drugs to young people hanging out near Peavey Plaza as part of an impairment study.
One officer who spoke to journalists said he never gave subjects drugs, but numerous young people who spoke on the record said police gave them marijuana, cigarettes, food, and other incentives as compensation for participating.
The report indicates that police patrol downtown Minneapolis looking for impaired people, then drive them to a testing facility in Richfield for examination of their capabilities while intoxicated. But in some cases where no previously impaired people could be found, police seduced prospective participants with drugs. The study has been ongoing since early last month.
Granted City Pages isn’t exactly a reputable source so I’m guessing much of this story is conjecture. With that said it’s interesting that police are patrolling OccupyMN looking for people who appear to be high on drugs. I also wouldn’t put it past the police to peddle drugs to individuals who already look under the influence but it’s pretty brazen. A few members of OccupyMN appear to believe the police are doing this to discredit the movement but I don’t think the police have to go to such lengths to discret the Occupy movement. Has anybody else heard of police going around recruiting apparently high individuals? I am under the assumption that police departments seek out volunteers for the Drug Recognition Expert program through advertising, not cruising around looking for people who are already under the influence.
Anyhow I don’t have anything substantial to report but if anybody has any information about this program I’d love to hear it. This has been a little back burner project of mine for a while but nothing really interesting ever crops up regarding the program.