Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Druggie Victorian cops

Police are failing drug tests more often than motorists or AFL footballers

Shock new figures reveal three officers tested positive to illicit drugs in the past 10 weeks, with two facing possible criminal charges. Hundreds more police will be checked in the next few months as the force accelerates its drug and alcohol testing.

Testing program head Acting Insp John Felton told the Herald Sun officers would soon face a better than one in 10 chance of being tested each year. "To have three (positives) in such a short space of time is disappointing but it also tells me that our approach in intelligence lead testing is sound," he said. "I have got a focus to undertake as much testing as I can and I have put changes in place to ensure that happens. We've done 200 tests in the past 10 weeks and my focus is to continue driving those sorts of numbers."

In August the Herald Sun revealed the force had conducted just 699 tests in 23 months - at which rate it would have taken 41 years to test all 14,400 police.

The latest officers to fail drug tests were among 200 police tested between July 1 and October 19 - a failure rate of one in 67 tests.

Police have said one in 69 motorists failing roadside drug tests in the first six months of the year was a high strike rate because they had focused on hot spots such as nightclubs, rave parties and truck routes.

The AFL tests all listed players at least once a year, and last year conducted more than 1500 tests, with 14, or one in 112, positive.

Acting Insp Felton said most of the latest tests were random workplace checks but the officers who failed were each chosen because of specific information. Seven police have now failed drug and alcohol tests, with 899 checks conducted since the force began testing in August 2008.

Acting Insp Felton would not say if any of the seven had worked in units involved in drug investigations or other "high risk" areas, citing privacy. "The Police Regulation Act forbids me to identify any individuals," he said.

He encouraged officers who had drug or alcohol problems to come forward and get help before they were tested.

The officers who failed the most recent tests were yet to face disciplinary hearings. Of the officers to fail earlier tests, two have resigned and the other two were disciplined.


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