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Nine New Drug Recognition Experts Combat DUI in Delaware

Date Posted: Tuesday, November 18th, 2014
Categories:  Kent County New Castle County News Office of Highway Safety Safety and Homeland Security Sussex County

Dover– Last month, nine Delaware law enforcement officers from state and local police departments completed an intensive training course to become certified Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). A DRE is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The DRE officer may be called to a DUI stop if a driver has failed the standardized field sobriety tests but the driver does not have a measurable breath alcohol concentration. The DRE can perform a battery of tests to determine if other drugs may be causing the impairment. All DRE officers can work statewide and can be called out to any DUI stop if needed.

The nine new DRE officers are:

Cpl. Adam Mease, Newark PD

Cpl. Dana Wyant, Rehoboth Beach PD

MPO Patrick McCloskey, UDPD

Cpl. Jonathan Gibbons, DSP Troop 2

Cpl. Patrick Wenk, DSP Troop 2

Cpl. Michael Weinstein, DSP Troop 3

Cpl. Andrew Partyka, DSP Troop 4

Cpl. Nicholas Demalto, DSP Troop 7

Cpl. Roland Mills, DSP Troop 7

They join three existing Delaware DREs:  Sgt. Andrew Rubin, Newark PD; Sgt. Joseph Parker, DSP Troop 2; and MCpl. Roy Bryant, DSP Troop 3.

The DRE training process requires nearly 100 hours of classroom and field training. An officer must complete the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) course and have SFST field experience before they can apply to the DRE program. Once an officer has been accepted into the DRE program, they must successfully complete four steps in order to become DRE certified.

  • Attend a 2 day intensive DRE pre-school to evaluate their ability. Successful candidates will go to on to the 7 day DRE school.
  • Complete a 7 day classroom training DRE school. Officers must score at least 80% to continue with the program.
  • Complete field certification process. If the officer was successful in the 7 day DRE school, they move to the field certification process. Each candidate must evaluate 12 subjects who are under the influence of something other than alcohol.  They also must identify at least three of the seven drug categories.  Each opinion rendered must be confirmed through toxicology.
  • Score 100% on final exam. The final exam is administered over the course of 12-18 hours and a score 100% is required to graduate and become a certified DRE officer.

The Delaware Office of Highway Safety coordinates the DRE program in Delaware and makes it available to all law enforcement statewide. For officers to maintain their DRE certification they must receive continuing education every two years, and they must conduct a minimum number of evaluations, 4 of which must be observed by a DRE instructor.

There are currently more than 6,300 active DREs in the United States.  There are also more than 500 in Canada.  Other countries are also starting to train DREs, including China – 2, Australia – 1, Germany – 1, and the Virgin Islands – 1.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) originated the program in the early 1970s, when it was noted many of the individuals arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) had very low/zero alcohol concentrations, indicating they were under the influence of drugs. Two LAPD sergeants collaborated with medical doctors, research psychologists, and other medical professionals to develop a standardized procedure for recognizing drug influence and impairment. Their efforts culminated in the development of a multi-step protocol and the first DRE program. The LAPD formally recognized the program in 1979 and attracted NHTSA’s attention. The two agencies developed a standardized DRE protocol. Studies have proven a properly trained DRE can successfully identify drug impairment and accurately determine the category of drugs causing such impairment.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) coordinates the International Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More information about the DRE program can be found at http://www.decp.org/.

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