ST. PAUL — Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman today announced that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) has launched a criminal investigation into allegations that a Hutchinson police officer provided marijuana to a potential subject in Minnesota’s drug evaluation and classification (DEC) training program last week.
An officer from another law enforcement agency allegedly witnessed the activity. The officer, who was also participating in DEC training, reported the incident to the Minnesota State Patrol.
Commissioner Dohman has also directed the Department of Public Safety Internal Affairs Division to investigate the DEC program to determine if any agency policies or procedures were violated.
“Training law enforcement officers to detect drug impairment helps to keep our roads safe, but we need to ensure that all participants follow guidelines and operate within the law,” Commissioner Dohman said. “I have suspended the drug recognition evaluator training pending the outcome of these investigations and until we revisit and review the curriculum for the program.”
The DEC program trains law enforcement officers to detect and remove drug impaired drivers from the road. An officer who receives this training is certified as a drug recognition evaluator (DRE). Currently 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada participate in the DEC program.
Minnesota’s DEC program has been managed by the State Patrol since its inception in 1991. There are 197 DRE officers in Minnesota representing 92 agencies.
DRE training consists of nine days of classroom work where officers learn about specific drug categories, physiology, and work to enhance their Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) skills.
Following the classroom training, and to complete certification, DRE candidates must perform 12 evaluations on drug-impaired subjects monitored and verified by DRE instructors. Volunteer subjects who appear to be impaired are typically recruited from the community.
The DEC program was developed in Los Angeles in the 1970s when police officers noticed that many individuals arrested for DWI had very low, or no, alcohol concentrations. The officers suspected that their suspects were under the influence of drugs, but lacked the knowledge and skills to support their suspicions.
In response, two LAPD sergeants collaborated with various medical doctors, research psychologists and other medical professionals to develop a simple, standardized procedure for recognizing drug influence and impairment. Their efforts culminated in the development of a multi-step protocol and the first DRE program. The LAPD formally recognized the program in 1979.
The national DEC program is managed and coordinated by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation.