Drug Use Common For Cop Hopefuls

Drug Use Common For Cop Hopefuls
Posted by FoM on December 09, 1999 at 15:26:44 PT
By Marilyn Robinson, Denver Post Staff Writer
Source: Denver Post
A growing number of applicants for police jobs admit having used drugs - a big problem given the shrinking pool of people who want law-enforcement careers, local officials say.It's a national problem, they say.
"We have very, very few candidates who don't have prior usage,'' said Ellen Reath, a member of the Denver Civil Service Commission, which tests and screens applicants.Paul Torres, the commission's executive director, estimated up to 70 percent of the applicants for police jobs in Denver admit to some type of illegal drug use."It's the rule rather than the exception any more,'' Torres said.The issue surfaced this week after a man who said he used illegal drugs 150 times prior to 1987 was admitted to the Denver police academy.The decision to admit the man has stirred controversy within the department. 9News reporter Paula Woodward obtained a tape of a conversation between police Capt. Jim Collier and Torres indicating the man should not be hired because of his background. In the tape, Torres said the man was being hired because he had a contact on the Civil Service Commission.Applicants who have used drugs in the past year are automatically disqualified in Denver, but those who admit using drugs years ago can remain under consideration, officials said Wednesday."It's pretty much a judgment call. You have to weigh the totality of the person,'' said Paula Sandoval, the commission's chairwoman.In addition, those who have used drugs and disclose it or sought counseling or rehabilitation are protected by the Americans With Disabilities Act, which prohibits discriminating against them, Torres said."To the best of my knowledge, we have never hired a substance abuser,'' Torres said. "We've approved some people who have had some usage at some point in their lives.''There's a lot of competition to find qualified candidates for police jobs these days, officials say."It's a national crisis to find candidates for police officers,'' Reath said. "Applications are way down across the country. You can find a job that pays pretty well where you don't get shot. The economy is so good.''In neighboring Aurora, the number of applications for police jobs has been averaging 300 for the past three years - down sharply from previous years when the city got more than 1,000 applicants.Few people who have used drugs apply for police jobs in Aurora because they are told they will be disqualified if they have used marijuana in the past five years and other drugs in the past 10 years, said Joe Czajka of the Aurora Civil Service Commission."If they know we're going to disqualify them because of drug usage, they don't bother to apply,'' Czajka said.In Lakewood, police also report the number of applicants has been down in the past few years, "but they're finding more applicants who have not used drugs than they have in the past,'' said police spokeswoman Ramonna Robinson.In a split vote, the Denver Civil Service Commission recommended to Safety Manager Butch Montoya that the Denver recruit who admitted frequent use of drugs in years past was eligible to be hired.Both Montoya and Police Chief Tom Sanchez have refused to comment, saying it's a personnel matter. But Montoya blasted what he called "a breach of confidentiality'' because information about the recruit was leaked to some members of the media.According to a background report obtained by 9News, in addition to the drug use, the recruit did poorly on psychological evaluations, admitted stealing from two former employers and admitted shoving his ex-wife and a girlfriend.The report also shows he applied to 19 other Colorado law-enforcement agencies in the past five years and was not accepted.Board members of the Police Protective Association brought up the case in a recent meeting with Montoya and were told he thought the recruit was entitled to "a second chance,'' board member John Wyckoff said."We accepted his explanation,'' Wyckoff said. "We didn't agree with it, but we accept it. Now it's kind of a wait-and-see process. We'll see how he does in the academy. Hopefully the manager made the right decision.''Two members of the Denver City Council's public-safety committee - Ramona Martinez and Ed Thomas - have asked for a meeting with Sanchez to discuss the case."Admitted drug use 150 times, admitted spousal abuse, admitted employee thefts? We have thousands of people apply for these positions who desperately want to be Denver police officers and we pick this guy,'' said Thomas, a former Denver police officer."Somebody ought to be embarrassed.''Published: December 9, 1999Copyright 1999 The Denver Post.
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Comment #2 posted by Vivek Saxena on December 10, 1999 at 08:16:42 PT:
screw this nation
screw americaonly country in the world that makes potheads appear asif they are evil beings from hellGO OUT AND FIND THE REAL EVIL PEOPLE!THE MURDERERS, THE SICK RAPISTS, THE KIDnAPpeRS
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on December 09, 1999 at 16:49:54 PT
Oh, the times, they are a'changin'
During the late Seventies and early Eighties, many prospective employers, even the Federal government, wouldn't dare ask questions about prior drug usage. The reason was excatly the same as stated above; the pool of prospective qualified candidates for often thankless but necessary jobs would shrink.The prohibitionists have had their way for a number of years now, with their piss tests and their hair tests, and their insulting prying into personal affairs. And now they have paid the price; few people are willing to allow such scrutiny in their lives and are gravitating towards employers who realize that it is not worth the headache of compliance with the cloud-cuckoo-land (Rommel's description of Hitler's mad schemes) aspirations of the prohibitionists. If this keeps up, with so many comapnies beginning to abandon drug testing as being ineffective, it won't be long before the rest of the country follows suit. And then the backlash of lawsuits by those rejected for a 'positive' test result for employment (when the tests themselves are about as accurate as your local weatherman) reach a high pitch, another nail will be driven into the prohibitionist coffin. I can't wait.
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