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Drug testing policy: a cooperative effort.

Many police administrators confront a critical personnel problem that, until recently, has rarely been discussed--illicit drug use among police officers. While this problem requires the immediate attention of department administrators, who must act to eliminate drug use within their agencies, the approach to the problem must be tempered with caution. Clearly, unless administrators gain the employees' support prior to implementing a drug testing policy, employee dissatisfaction and low morale may result. Securing employee support could mean the difference between success and failure of a specific program.

When the chief of the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Police Department considered implementing a drug testing policy, he first surveyed officers to determine their attitudes on the issue. This helped to identify possible problem areas before any major action was taken. It also made the officers feel a part of the decision making process concerning a policy that would impact all of them.

Departmental Survey

The survey began with a carefully worded appeal for the officers' assistance in developing a departmentwide drug testing policy. In part, this appeal read as follows:

"It is my intention to solicit your views and opinions on the subject of drug testing for all members of the police department. The idea of such a policy is not borne of distrust, but of the need to design a program in the spirit of cooperative effort, that will yield a policy that can be conducted fairly, with adequate safeguards for protection of privacy and dignity for all members of the department...It is our concern for the need to balance the private interests of those affected against the need to maintain the public trust, and the highest level of public safety service for our citizens. To assist us in this endeavor, please respond to the following survey."|1~ The officers were then asked to answer nine questions designed to determine whether they believed that illicit drug use existed among sworn personnel, how they viewed the implementation of drug testing, and under what circumstances they believed drug testing would be appropriate.

Survey Results

One hundred ninety-four of 344 officers responded to the survey. Sixty-one percent believed that a substance abuse problem existed within the department, 86 percent favored a drug testing policy, and 65 percent favored a random drug testing policy.

The survey further revealed that members of the department who responded to the survey were in favor of a firm drug testing policy, based upon specific complaint and reasonable suspicion. Sixty-six percent of the respondents did not favor any "adequate notice" primer to random drug testing. The majority also believed that mandatory testing should exist for new applicants, officers involved in accidents where serious bodily injury or death occurs, and as a regular requirement for members of the Vice/Narcotics Division.

Developing a Policy

After determining how officers felt on key issues of a drug testing policy, the Planning and Research Unit drafted three proposals. The first proposal was based on a literature study on drug testing, the second was taken from the IACP Model Drug Testing Policy but was adapted to the particular needs of the Fort Wayne Police Department, and the third was adapted from the Chicago Police Department's Drug Testing Policy.

With the three policies in hand, departmental managers began negotiations with representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Patrolman's Benevolent Association. After a series of revised drafts, the three parties reached an agreement. The final policy culminated a cooperative effort between employees and management.

The Policy

The final drug testing policy requires mandatory testing, using specific sample collection procedures under predetermined circumstances. For example, all new applicants undergo drug testing, as do all probationary officers prior to the conclusion of their probationary periods. In addition, all officers assigned to the Narcotics Division, Emergency Services Team, and Internal Affairs must undergo mandatory drug testing.

Officials can also require drug testing when an officer's unusual behavior, conduct, or actions indicate possible substance abuse. In addition, testing is warranted when officials receive a specific complaint about an officer, supported by facts and documented in writing, or when an officer is involved in a serious incident. (A serious incident is defined as an incident that involves serious bodily injury or death, i.e., shooting, cutting, or physical force, or an automobile accident resulting in death or serious bodily injury.)

The drug testing policy further requires that there be one departmentwide drug test for all sworn police personnel. After the initial test, 25 percent of the department members can be called for random drug testing. Any individual selected twice in one calendar year for testing cannot be selected fot a third testing in that year.


Many police officers are amenable to the concept of policing themselves. They welcome firm, fair drug testing policies. However, the key to the success of the Fort Wayne Police Department drug testing policy lies in the fact that it was "conceived and implemented by a process of cooperative effort with members of the department."(2)

Allowing officers who have a vested interest in the drug testing policy to voice their opinions prior to its development creates an atmosphere of cooperation. This, in turn, fosters employee acceptance of the new policy.


1 "Attitude Survey," Fort Wayne, Indiana, Police Department, July 14, 1989.

2 "Drug Testing Policy", Fort Wayne, Indiana, Police Department, June 1992.

Lieutenant Gigli is assigned to the Planning and Research Unit of the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Police Department.

Survey Question

1. Do you think there is a substance abuse problem within the Forth Wayne Policy Department?

2. Do you favor some sort of drug testing policy?

3. Do you think that drug testing should be mandatory for new applicants?

4. Do you favor random drug testing?

5. Do you favor a drug testing policy that is mandatory and based on "reasonable suspicion?"

6. Do you favor a drug testing policy that is mandatory and based on "specific complaint" and "reasonable suspicion?"

7. Should drug testing be mandatory when members of the department are involved in accidents where there is serious bodily injury or death?

8. Should any drug testing policy include adequate notice?

9. Do you favor drug testing as a regular requirement for any officer in the Vice/Narcotics Division?
COPYRIGHT 1993 Federal Bureau of Investigation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Police Policy
Author:Gigli, Kenneth J.
Publication:The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Previous Article:The Pacific Training Initiative: cooperation in action.
Next Article:The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program.

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