Cops’ drug program spawns more questions

 

 

The mother of a man who says he was given drugs by a police officer as part of a statewide training program said she suspects it was more than marijuana, as the police officer allegedly claimed.

Christin Olivier said she watched a video of her 20-year-old son, Forest, taken shortly after his encounter with the officer and that his behavior was too jumpy to be the result of marijuana alone.

“We still have no idea what my son was given,” said Olivier, who lives in Minneapolis.

Olivier’s question was just one of many to arise this week after the state Department of Public Safety launched a criminal probe against a Hutchinson officer, placed a state trooper on leave and suspended the state’s Drug Recognition Evaluator (DRE) program, a staple of law enforcement training that’s been around for 20 years.

The allegation that officers were distributing drugs, first made by local Occupy Minnesota protesters in Minneapolis and initially denied by state law enforcement officials, was given new life this week after an officer came forward with similar allegations, according to the state Department of Public Safety. The DRE program itself has come under fire elsewhere from criminal defense attorneys questioning its science, and a court in Maryland two months threw out such tests, saying they were unreliable.

A spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety said Friday that the investigation continues. The spokesman left open the possibility that the investigation could grow to include more than the two officers facing allegations that they were present when drugs were handed out.

Watching the investigation will be Minneapolis City Council Member Cam Gordon, who spoke publicly about the DRE program after he was approached by the mother of one of the test subjects. Gordon said he’s been left with a series of questions: How did the officers get the drugs? How many officers were involved? How long has this gone on?

“From the accounts that I heard it just seemed like this was the normal way that they were doing it,” he said. “Nothing said to me, ‘Oh, this was just a one-time, freakish incident.'”

 

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