Cops May Face Uphill Battle in Hiring 

Cops May Face Uphill Battle in Hiring 
Posted by FoM on February 28, 2000 at 07:13:32 PT
By M.E. Sprengelmeyer, DRMN Staff Writer
Source: InsideDenver
Denver could have trouble finding enough police applicants under a new zero-tolerance policy on past cocaine use, an FBI official has warned.The FBI has found that of the more than 1,200 Denver-area applicants the bureau gets each year, 30 percent have used cocaine or other hard drugs, a spokesman said.
Jane Quimby of the FBI said only about 30 percent to 40 percent have never used any drugs. "It's frightening to people, but those of us who work in hiring recognize it's not that unusual," Quimby said. "I wish it was surprising to me."Mayor Wellington Webb last week announced a new policy directive that would disqualify police applicants who have ever used cocaine, even in one-time experiments long ago.Webb was responding to the controversy over the drug past of newly hired officer Ellis Johnson, but the policy could shrink the applicant pool at a time when the department needs hundreds of new recruits to replace retiring officers."It's an admirable goal," Quimby said. "They're going to find it's going to create some real practical difficulties for them in terms of recruiting and hiring, because in the Denver area now it's very competitive for applicants."Webb consulted with Safety Manager Butch Montoya prior to the decision to make sure the department could fill a recruiting class despite the hard-line policy, the mayor's spokesman Andrew Hudson said.Interim Police Chief Gerald Whitman said he believes it will cause only a minor dropoff in the pool of applicants as a task force led by former Colorado Supreme Court Justice William Neighbors develops a more comprehensive list of hiring policies."The cocaine usage issue is part of having consistent criteria on screening applicants," Whitman said. "Applying that criteria leads to credibility of the process."Police departments nationwide have had to adjust their hiring policies because of widespread drug use in society as a whole. Many, including Denver, have different standards for marijuana use and a range of harder drugs, including cocaine, heroin and other controlled substances.Even the FBI has had to adjust its standards for applicants.Until 1994, the FBI had a zero tolerance policy disqualifying anyone who used marijuana or other drugs, even in one-time teen-age experiments."There was a determination that maybe it wasn't as realistic to expect that people coming in would not have used any drugs whatsoever," said Quimby, who until recently led the FBI's recruiting efforts in Denver.The FBI's revised policy still disqualifies people who have ever sold illegal drugs, or those who have used drugs in the past three years. They cannot have used marijuana more than 15 times in their lives.On harder drugs, including cocaine, they are not automatically disqualified unless they have used the substances more than five times total or any time within the prior 10 years.Just because they qualify to apply for jobs doesn't mean past drug users will get jobs, Quimby said.None of the 37 FBI agents hired out of the Denver field office since 1998 has used cocaine, although several had limited marijuana use in their past, Quimby said. Like Denver police and other agencies, applicants undergo pre-employment polygraph tests to check their veracity."Sure, we would prefer to have applicants who had no prior drug usage, but when our policy evolved in 1994 it was a realization that that was not a practical reality anymore," Quimby said.The new Denver police policy on cocaine comes at a time when the department must step up its hiring. Over the next three years, hundreds of veteran officers are expected to retire from the 1,400-member force, so the city is looking to hire 400 to 500 officers. The department has expanded its recruiting efforts and increased the number of recruits enrolled in academy training.Denver police spokeswoman Virginia Lopez said she is not worried about the hard line on cocaine use affecting the applicant pool."If that is actually going to affect the applicant pool, it's going to be for the better," she said. "To me, when you put on the uniform you are supposed to represent someone who stands behind and believes in the law, and you should lead a pretty unsullied lifestyle."I don't want anyone looking at our officers or our department and saying, 'Who are they to uphold the law if they are a person who has broken the law in one way or another,"' she said.Contact M.E. Sprengelmeyer at (303) 470-3937 or sprengelmeyerm RockyMountainNews.comPublished : February 28, 2000  Copyright, Denver Publishing Co CannabisNews Search & Archives of Police Related Topics:
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Comment #1 posted by anonymous on February 28, 2000 at 10:57:42 PT
nazis are back
 Well, now they are criminalizing a large group of people who have a single common trait, past drug use. sort of like the Nazis and the Jews, a single identifying trait, religion. When you catagorize people and then discriminate against the group, you become nothing more than a Nazi, with all of its bad connotations.
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