For the first time, city police officers will be subject to random drug testing under the newly approved union contract.
Mayor Art Ward said that drug testing is “a part of just about every contract” nowadays and shouldn’t be taken as an indication that the city has any concerns about drug use by officers.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to get the language in there,” said Personnel Director Diane Ferguson. She said the police union didn’t have a problem with adding it.
The provision calls for “no more than 25” tests per year for employees randomly picked by lottery by the chief in the presence of a union leader.
Those picked for urine testing will be tested during the first available shift within 48 hours of their selection, the contract provides.
The contract spells out allowable limits for everything from marijuana to methadone, including anabolic steroids and a number of other drugs.
City Councilor Ken Cockayne, who opposed the contract, said he believes the standards are not tough enough because they allow officers to have a minimal amount of some drugs in their urine without getting into hot water.
“I believe there should be zero tolerance,” Cockayne said.
The contract allows employees who admit to drug-related misconduct to seek rehabilitation once without discipline as long as they come forward before they are selected for tests.
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