Do Cops Get Drug Tested?

In a world where law enforcement officers are entrusted with upholding the law and ensuring the safety of their communities, the question of “Do cops get drug tested?” looms as a critical inquiry. The role of a police officer demands unwavering integrity, responsibility, and accountability. Because they are tasked with enforcing the very laws that prohibit the use of controlled substances. 

The prospect of drug testing for police officers reflects the need for transparency and public trust. Also underscores the inherent challenges and ethical dilemmas that arise when balancing the rights of individuals in a profession dedicated to preserving the rule of law. 

This paradox serves as the backdrop for an exploration of the policies, procedures, and debates surrounding drug testing within law enforcement, shedding light on a topic of paramount importance in the modern era of policing.

In this article, we will get knowledge about how cops get drug tested and what are the types of drug tests they undergo.

Do Cops Get Drug Tested in 2023?

Yes, police officers are required to take drug tests throughout their careers. When an officer is first hired, they must pass an initial drug screening. After being hired, officers are subject to both random and suspicion-based drug testing.

Do Cops Get Drug Tested

Random drug tests are administered periodically to officers while on the job. The timing of these tests is unannounced and officers are selected at random from the whole police force. This helps deter any drug use, as officers do not know when they might be tested.

In addition to random tests, individual officers can be asked to take a drug test if there is reasonable suspicion of drug use. Signs of impairment on the job, such as slurred speech or lack of coordination, could prompt a supervisor to request testing. Illegal drugs found in an officer’s possession or other evidence suggesting drug use would also lead to a reasonable suspicion test.

If an officer fails a drug test, either random or suspicion-based, they face disciplinary action. This starts with being placed on administrative leave while an investigation occurs. Ultimately, failing a drug test typically results in termination from the police force. Officers are held to very high standards when it comes to illegal drug use.

What Type of Drug Test Do Police Departments Do for Cops?

Police departments primarily use urine drug tests to screen officers for illegal drug use. Also, Urine tests are able to detect recent drug use by identifying drug metabolites that remain in the body after the effects of the drug have worn off.

Moreover, the urine tests given to police officers screen for a wide range of common illegal drugs including cocaine, marijuana, opioids, amphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP). The tests can usually detect drug use that has occurred within the past few days up to about a week.

While urine testing is the predominant method used, some police departments may also utilize hair drug testing. Hair testing analyzes hair follicles to identify traces of drug metabolites. This type of test can detect drug use that happened weeks or even months prior, allowing for a longer detection window.

Breathalyzer tests are also sometimes given to officers to check for recent alcohol use while on duty. However, urine and hair remain the primary specimens used for full drug screening.

Police departments have strict chain of custody procedures to ensure the integrity of officer drug tests. This includes supervising the specimen collection, sealing/labeling samples, and secure shipping to accredited laboratories. By following proper protocols, departments can trust in the accuracy of test results.

What Drugs Are Tested for Cops?

Here are some common illegal drugs that are tested for in police officer drug screening:

  • Marijuana: Tests detect THC metabolites to identify marijuana use. Marijuana can cause impairment of motor skills, coordination, and judgment. Its use is illegal in most states and not permitted for police officers.
  • Cocaine: Cocaine and its metabolites are screened to identify the use of this highly addictive stimulant drug. Cocaine can cause agitation, hypertension, and erratic behavior. It is an illegal Schedule II controlled substance.
  • Opioids: Tests identify drugs like heroin, morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone in this class of narcotic analgesics. Opioids bring the risk of overdose and death along with impairment. Their non-prescription use is illegal.
  • Amphetamines: Amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, and similar stimulants are tested for. Their use can lead to aggression, impulsivity, and severe health impacts. These are banned Schedule II substances.
  • Phencyclidine (PCP): This dissociative hallucinogen can cause delirium, combativeness, and irrational behaviors. It is a Schedule II controlled substance that officers are not permitted to use.

In addition to these major drug groups, tests may also screen for barbiturates, benzodiazepines, synthetic cannabinoids, and other illicit drugs based on department protocols. The goal is to enforce a zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use among police.

How Often Cops Drug Tests?

Here are the main occasions when police officers will be drug tested:

  • Pre-Employment Screening: All new police officer candidates must pass an initial drug test when applying for the job. This establishes they are clear of drug use as a new hire.
  • Random Testing: Throughout an officer’s career, they are subject to random drug tests on no set schedule. This acts as a deterrent since officers never know when they may be tested.
  • Reasonable Suspicion: If a supervisor has reasonable suspicion that an officer may be under the influence while on duty, they can promptly require a drug test. Suspicion may be raised by slurred speech, lack of coordination, or erratic behavior.
  • Critical Incidents: After a police officer is involved in a shooting, crash, or other critical incident, a drug test is often administered as a routine precaution.
  • Promotions: Some departments require officers to pass a new drug screening when being considered for promotion to a higher rank with more responsibilities.
  • Periodic Testing: In addition to random tests, some departments perform drug tests on an annual, biannual, or other periodic basis to identify any developing issues.

So, police officers should expect they could be tested for drugs at any time while employed in order to ensure the highest standards of integrity and performance. Failing a test results in termination at most police departments.

Can A Cop Refuse the Drug Test?

No, police officers do not have the right to refuse a lawful drug test ordered by their department. 

There are a few key reasons why officers cannot refuse:

  • Drug testing is a condition of ongoing employment at all police departments. When officers join the force, they agree to comply with random and suspicion-based drug screening. Refusal violates this agreement.
  • Police departments need to identify impaired or addicted officers who may be unfit for duty and a danger to the public and other officers. Allowing officers to opt out of testing undermines public safety.
  • Refusing a drug test is grounds for immediate suspension and dismissal. Department policies specify that officers must comply with lawful orders from supervisors, including submitting to mandated drug tests.
  • Officers who refuse testing or fail to appear for a scheduled drug screening may face criminal charges for insubordination. Refusal is treated as seriously as failing the actual drug test.
  • Legally, individual police officers do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning drug tests under federal court rulings. Their role necessitates increased oversight.

Police officers are required to comply with department drug tests. The consequences of refusal are termination of employment as well as potential criminal charges. Compulsory drug testing is deemed essential to ensure officers are sober and able to protect public safety.

What If I Fail a Drug Test?

Failing a  drug test at the police department will raise a red flag and here are the possible circumstances that you may face.

  • Immediate Administrative Leave – The officer will be placed on leave pending an internal investigation and disciplinary review. This removes them from active duty.
  • Internal Investigation – The department will open an investigation into the circumstances of the failed test. The officer will be interviewed and the evidence reviewed.
  • Disciplinary Action – Failure to pass a drug test is grounds for severe discipline. For a first offense, the likely penalty is termination of employment.
  • Possible Criminal Charges – Illicit drug use could open up an officer to potential criminal charges depending on the situation. This may include drug possession if the substance is illegal.
  • Loss of Certification – A failed drug test can lead to an officer’s state certification being revoked. This prevents them from being hired at another law enforcement agency.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment – As part of the separation from the department, an addicted officer may be ordered to undergo treatment such as rehab prior to any potential rehiring.
  • Reputation Damage – News of the failed test and firing of the officer will likely spread, making it hard to get hired in law enforcement again.

A failed drug test essentially means the immediate end of an officer’s career at that department. It is considered a profound breach of ethics and standards for the profession. Recovery and reemployment are very difficult outcomes to achieve after failing a police drug test.

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