OP-ED | Missing in the Police Accountability Act: A ‘Trace’ of Common Sense

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One of Connecticut’s many “steady habits” is its penchant for passing laws characterised by good intentions accompanied by much less fascinating, unintended penalties. A chief instance is the drug testing provision in our state’s controversial new Police Accountability Act (PAA). 

We all need our law enforcement officials to be clear-headed and free from the affect of medication. But contained inside the 71 pages of the new legislation are a digital labyrinth of pitfalls and “gotcha” moments extra more likely to punish good law enforcement officials than deter unhealthy ones. 

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Section three, paragraph 10 of the legislation is ideal instance of how the legislation can spring a entice that might consequence in monetary hardship and destroy the status of an upstanding police officer. It mandates that in order to maintain their jobs, law enforcement officials should undergo a urinalysis drug check that screens for managed substances, the consequence of which point out “no presence of any controlled substance” (emphasis added). 

This “zero” commonplace is opposite to nearly every kind of drug screening obtainable to employers throughout the nation – and it defies science, logic and nationwide consensus requirements for drug testing. In any scientific testing, there’s a minimize off, permissible or threshold restrict worth that ensures the check will detect impermissible drug use with out returning “false positives” in order to optimize general accuracy. 

Apparently, Connecticut legislators missed the well-known episode “Seinfeld” when Elaine failed a drug check instantly after consuming a poppy seed muffin. This was drama on tv for the sake of comedy. In actual life a drug check would present the hint presence of morphine or codeine however not meet the minimize off stage.

Now, beneath Connecticut’s new legislation, it’s solely potential a law-abiding police officer might discover themselves in a similar – however far much less humorous—state of affairs; in truth, there are a bunch of on a regular basis merchandise with cross-reactive properties that might set off false positives.

Calibrating drug checks to permit for hint ranges each permits for the probability that frequent substances will result in hint ranges in an individual’s urine and have in mind check accuracy (margins for error aka cross-reactivity). Some frequent drugs that present up as “trace levels” embrace (however aren’t restricted to): cough medication, over-the-counter Ibuprofen, weight reduction tablets, sleep drugs and even secondhand smoke.

Allowing some minimal minimize off ranges stop the embarrassment and reputational injury that include a failed drug check. Although outcomes are presupposed to be personal, the actuality in any public security service is that when a member checks constructive, s/he’s positioned on depart and colleagues will both suspect or know the cause. 

Most testing applications round the nation are regulated by the pointers provided by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a division of the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration. The different prevalent commonplace is regulated by the Department of Transportation. All 50 states make the most of their finest practices and have minimize off ranges for drug checks. Why would Connecticut deviate from this sound public coverage?   

SAMHSA pointers are a confirmed benchmark for drug testing. Abandoning these requirements defies frequent sense and fundamental humanity. PAA should be amended to guard legislation abiding police and the taxpayers who’re supporting them. 

Frank Ricci (@frankriccidc), is at present Senior Strategist at Yankee Institute, was the lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case  Ricci v. DeStefano  and  a retired battalion chief & union president for New Haven Fire Fighters. He is an advisory board member of  Fire Engineering Magazine.    

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or methods expressed by the writer are theirs alone, and don’t essentially replicate the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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