Officers Train to be Drug Experts

FAYETTEVILLE, AR-- Officers across the natural state are pulling over impaired drivers and thinking they might be drunk. However, what happens when the driver hasn't had any alcohol?

Now with some hands-on training, officers can properly pin-point what is causing the impairment, and how to move forward with the investigation. Officer Patrick Hanby has been a Fayetteville night shift patrol officer for almost five years now. He said he has seen his fair share of intoxicated drivers. "In this area, it's very frequent. I started coming across things that I didn't understand."

Hanby said, officers are stopping people and realizing they are under the influence, but finding out alcohol is not the cause.

"When they check their blood alcohol content, they realize it is under the legal limit. Drug impaired drivers may exhibit some of the same things except you have no odor," Hanby said.

So now, they are training to become drug recognition experts. Hanby said, "We complete a 12-step evaluation. We start off with our vital sign examinations."

There are several psycho-physical tests that divide attention between the mind and body and help officers find out what's really going on.

"We later request a sample of the subject's blood or urine and we send that to the state crime lab for further testing and then we can have a result later to confirm our opinion," Hanby said.

Whether it's pot, or prescription pills, Hanby said, often times "People will go out and have one or two beers and then have a Xanax with that."

Hanby said with this training, officers can keep impaired drivers off the roads. "This state will benefit from this and the public will be safer as a result of this. If I can take one impaired motorist off the street, I feel like I can at least make some sort of a difference."

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