COBOURG CONSTABLE CERTIFIED AS DRUG RECOGNITION EXPERT
A Cobourg Police constable is one of a select few across the Province with the special designation of a Drug Recognition Expert.
Cobourg Police Constable Paul Legere recently graduated from a course on the subject of drug recognition held at the Ontario Police College.
The 300-hour course involved a 200-hour field training and testing along with a eight-hour written exam on January 2, 2007 at the York Regional Police Service Headquarters.
Under a federal government initiative, the RCMP was allotted approximately $20 million to train law enforcement officers throughout the country, making them Drug Recognition Experts, said Cobourg Police Chief Garry Clement.
Chief Clement said the course is "one of the most intensive training ( programs ) ever offered in law enforcement."
"They have to learn the pharmacology of drugs and understanding what drugs are all about.
"They also have to learn the effects on a person, and have to get themselves trained to a level where they can detect and give expert opinion to the level of impairment," Chief Clement said.
Chief Clement said the officer is one of no more than 25 officers trained as Drug Recognition Experts in Ontario.
"We are on the forefront and that's what I wanted to be."
But the draft legislation has yet to be passed to give police power to perform the testing on an individual thought to be impaired by drugs and driving.
Currently, an officer can only perform the tests on the driver on a voluntary basis.
"I'm hopeful the ( Bill C-32 ) legislation will be brought forward this next round and this legislation will be included in it," said Chief Clement.
"The legislation essentially wants to emphasize that impairment by drugs is illegal and that exists today, but the problem is, there is no testing mechanism." The draft legislation states "we will recognize the drug recognition expert. Should that come into play, we are definitely going to have a lead."
At the moment there is no technology that exists to perform a test on a person thought to be under the influence of drugs as a road-screening device does for persons consuming alcohol and driving.
"So the mere fact that we have an officer trained puts us on the forefront of law enforcement."
"There is no doubt in my mind within five years there will be something developed from a technology point of view that will allow us to do testing, but in the interim, this is a good start."
Chief Clement said Constable Legere spent hours of his own time studying for the final exam.
During the course Constable Legere worked with law enforcement officials from the United States and had to perform tests on individuals who volunteered, looking for clinical or physical signs of impairment by drugs.
Most of the people who volunteered to take part in the testing were either inmates at a correctional institution in Arizona or people who attended concerts who were possibly under the influence of illegal drugs.
Inmates who were part of the program were serving sentences for crimes ranging from shoplifting to murder.
During the training Constable Legere had to be 100 per cent accurate and each test took approximately 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
"These are individuals that are being entered into the system. They volunteered to do this and a lot of them come in stoned."
Constable Legere is now able to detect illegal drugs from seven categories including:
central nervous depressants ( e.g. alcohol or prescribed medication )
disgesacitrive aesthetics ( e.g. PCP )
inhalants ( e.g. sniffing glue, gas )
cannabis ( e.g. marijuana )
central nervous system stimulates ( e.g. cocaine )
narcotics analgesics ( e.g. heroin )
hallucinogens ( e.g. magic mushrooms )
"We have the opportunity to select another officer and I very well may be putting a second officer on."
The training Constable Legere was on came out as a result of Chief Clement being on the Drug Action Committee for the Chiefs of Police.
"It takes an officer that is going to be dedicated and motivated to do this and my hat's off to ( Constable Legere )," said Chief Clement.
2007 Port Hope Evening Guide