Mandatory Drug Testing
Pittsburgh, PA-It’s the usual tale of hypocrisy and double-standards that have always been part of the “war on drugs,” only this time with a slightly ironic twist. The union representing Pittsburgh police officers has filed a grievance against workplace drug and alcohol testing, claiming that forcing cops to mandatory drug testing is a violation of their Constitutional rights.
Union attorney Bryan Campbell describes the testing policy as “an illegal search and seizure,” and thus a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
The remarkable thing is that the policy the union is up in arms about is shockingly small.
There’re only three circumstances under which a police officer is compelled to submit to a drug and alcohol test. 1. Displaying signs of impairment, 2. Discharging a weapon, or 3. Being involved in a vehicle crash. That’s it!
The union’s complaint arises from a recent pursuit that ended in a car crash. Two officers who participated in the chase but were not directly involved in the crash were required to undergo testing.
But critics are claiming the complaint is clearly an assertion of “Blue Privilege,” the idea that law enforcement officers needn’t be accountable to the laws they swear to uphold.
The result has been a firestorm of back-and-forth posturing and maneuvering.
Police Chief Cameron McLay insists that the terms of the contract allow him to require tests of all officers involved in a pursuit, irrespective of whether they were also involved in a collision.
But union attorney Campbell suggests that the city is sacrificing the rights of his clients to protect itself in the event of a lawsuit: “They don’t forfeit their constitutional rights to protect the city from civil liability.”
But the seriousness of filing a civil rights grievance may also be a tactic to stave off public accountability of the substances used by police officers.
In other words, cops might be getting so defensive because the do have something to hide: not drugs or alcohol, but anabolic steroids.