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Deputies train to catch drugged drivers

Sunday, June 30, 2013 11:36 PM
Last updated 11:57 PM
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After Richmond County sheriff’s Lt. Ramone Lamkin completed drug recognition training, he realized how many impaired drivers he had been letting get away.

“Everyone knows what alcohol and marijuana smell like, but you don’t know what different drugs do,” he said.

Depressants are prevalent in Augusta, but most deputies don’t know how to determine whether the driver is under the influence. Lamkin said people often ignore the prescription warning to “not operate heavy machinery” and get behind the wheel anyway.

“Sometimes you can take the medicated dose your doctor gives you and it will still make you less safe to operate machinery,” he said.

Three traffic division deputies will complete the training class, funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safe­ty, in Tifton, Ga., this week. Three other officers, including Lamkin, had previously trained to become drug-recognition experts.

Fewer than 1 percent of the 50,000 sworn officers in Georgia have the training. South Georgia especially needs more certified officers.

“It’s very intensive,” said Jonathan Fuss, who manages impaired driving training programs for the Georgia Police Academy. “A lot of people shy away from it because they’ve heard the horror stories. We try to explain to these guys that nothing worth having is easy.”

During the nine-day course, officers learn to identify impaired drivers by checking blood pressure, muscle tone, pulse rate, pupil size and physiological effects.

After classroom training, officers have to put the 12-step evaluations to use on live subjects to determine whether they are impaired and what type of substance causes the impairment.

An extensive written test also follows.

“It’s not an easy class by any means,” Lamkin said. “It takes a dedicated officer to go through this training.”

According to the Gover­nor’s Office of Highway Safety, drug-recognition experts are better able to prosecute driving under the influence cases because drug tests often are suppressed in court. In those cases, evidence such as elevated body temperature and blood pressure can reinforce the arrest.

Lamkin said he hopes the drug-recognition experts can help cut down on impaired driving and educate the public about impairment, especially from prescription drugs.

A drug-recognition expert can be called in by any deputy who suspects a driver might be under the influence but is not trained well enough to make the determination.

RECOGNIZING DRUG USE IN 12 STEPS

1. Breathalyzer test

2. Officer certified as drug recognition expert interviews arresting officer

3. Preliminary exam, including pulse rate and pupil size.

4. Thorough eye exam

5. Divided attention test

6. Check of vital signs, including blood pressure

7. Officer checks pupil size in a dark room

8. Muscle tone test

9. Check for injection sites; recheck pulse

10. Interrogate suspect

11. Evaluator gives opinion

12. Toxicology exam

Comments (14) Add comment
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GnipGnop
12227
Points
GnipGnop 07/01/13 - 09:43 am
7
2
rebellious
20737
Points
rebellious 07/01/13 - 09:57 am
6
2
I know a kid

who was stopped, searched and when an unidentified pill bottle was found in his car, convicted of DUI. No alcohol involved. Part of his probation is to have a breathalizer device attached to his car to prevent driving after drinking. Unbelievable stuff these days.

GiantsAllDay
9580
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/01/13 - 10:06 am
5
2
Remember people it's none of

Remember people it's none of the cops business where you've been or where you are going.
http://youtu.be/6wXkI4t7nuc

thauch12
6584
Points
thauch12 07/01/13 - 10:07 am
9
2
Ridiculous

I'm not convinced 9 days of training and a "written exam" makes one a drug "expert" by any stretch of the imagination. It would be one thing if these were trained medical professionals, but we're talking about cops, people who more often than not only have a high-school biology education of how the human body works. I'm all for safer roads and all, but I'm not so sure about this one...

GiantsAllDay
9580
Points
GiantsAllDay 07/01/13 - 10:10 am
4
2
They run the red light

They run the red light cameras through Phoenix AZ. and they get a cut. Augusta city council are going to sign on next?

Cameron Poe
872
Points
Cameron Poe 07/01/13 - 10:53 am
8
2
thauch12, That is my concern

thauch12,
That is my concern too. Im all for safer roadways. But trusting non-medical professionals to assess blood pressure, muscle tone, and pulse seems a little too much for me. I can see the problems now.

"Why is your pulse racing sir?" - Deputy
"Well because Im in a hurry and naturally nervous from being pulled over late at night" - Anonymous Driver
"You know what I believe you are on drugs. Let's go downtown." - Deputy
Who knows what transpires after this.

Look I get that these ideas are coming from a good place. But you are putting way too much pressure on the already tense pressure of any traffic stop. Now you are asking non-medical professionals to interpret things they are not truly qualified to interpret, with only the knowledge of a 9day course and written test?
Sounds to me like another idea that sounds good on the surface and panders to the crowd wanting more safety, but when broken down looks like more danger and liability.

Darby
25577
Points
Darby 07/01/13 - 11:24 am
6
2
"Muscle tone test"??????????

Flex that bicep girl... Lemme look at that!!!

Jake
32528
Points
Jake 07/01/13 - 01:16 pm
7
2
What next?

Rectal exams?

specialist
190
Points
specialist 07/01/13 - 03:46 pm
0
1
Drugged drivers training

I think that this training is just a way to 'burn up' training dollars. It certainly does not have any practical application. The ground work... I am a Vietnam veteran rated 100% disabled having 3years exposure to agent Orange, resulting in Diabetes. So needle marks? I take 3 insulin shots a day. Diabetes also contributes to my high blood pressure, for which I must take oral meds. The diabetes also effects my muscles in such a way as to cause me to limp and ability to stand still and erect at all times. Yep I am a mess, but I served my country honorably and do not regret one minute of it. But for a deputy to be able to follow all my history without taking me 'downtown' I doubt it. So when/if it happens, I will own the city of Augusta

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/01/13 - 04:14 pm
6
2
Another end run arond the 4th Amendment.

No need to bother actually searching for pills or pot or alcohol; the testimony of high school dropouts with a track record of lying under oath will be sufficient.

Swell.

Michael Atwood
47
Points
Michael Atwood 07/01/13 - 04:20 pm
1
8
simple

I would say simply, if you aren't driving impaired, if you aren't driving under the influence of drugs, and if you are driving in a safe manner in proper control of your vehicle, what are you worried about?

GnipGnop
12227
Points
GnipGnop 07/01/13 - 05:38 pm
6
1
I would say....

police are humans and are subject to wrong decisions. To have to pay a lawyer from the medical judgement of a unqualified person smacks of a police state. I bet you dollars to doughnut holes (no pun intended) you will hear of cases where someone was pulled over...had a bad attitude or the cop has a sour attitude and for lack of another charge this comes up. Just like the disorderly conduct charge that really has no basis other than the police have nothing else to charge them with. I am not painting all police with this brush but trust me this will happen.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 07/01/13 - 06:09 pm
4
1
"...Just like the disorderly conduct charge

that really has no basis other than the police have nothing else to charge them with..."

Nothing more than a fabrication; a pre-emptive strike against a lawsuit for real abuses of authority.

Fawkes
48
Points
Fawkes 07/01/13 - 08:05 pm
4
0
I know I would several of

I know I would several of these tests if stopped after a long day of work where I didn't have a chance to get food and had be rushing all day.

oldredneckman96
5095
Points
oldredneckman96 07/01/13 - 09:32 pm
1
3
Drugs
Unpublished

Wow, it looks like a lot of drug addicts do not like the fact they are not contractually allowed to drive. When you drive on a public highway you have a contract, by way of a drivers license. By the way, if a Doctor presribes a drug that will impair he should notify the DOT and have the patient turn in his license before he can have the prescription filled. Drug addicts should have to pay for monthly drug screening to have a drivers license. The State has to do this to uphold its part of the contract to provide a safe roadway.

GnipGnop
12227
Points
GnipGnop 07/01/13 - 09:43 pm
3
1
That's the dumbest thing I have ever heard

While we are at it let's have everyone that goes to a liquor store have to sign in so the DOT can confiscate their license too...really?

Bizkit
31304
Points
Bizkit 07/01/13 - 10:50 pm
2
0
Too prone to human error and

Too prone to human error and why bother when there are tests that use a fingerprint and determine a drug within ten minutes. With technology there can be random drug testing of any person by a police officer at any stop-so much for privacy. So the SCOTUS will rule for the right of privacy for women in Roe vs Wade but the issue of drug testing is conflicting with allowing some like high school student testing, and prohibiting others-like public officials.

oldredneckman96
5095
Points
oldredneckman96 07/02/13 - 08:18 pm
1
0
Great Idea
Unpublished

Glop Glop, great idea about the liquior store! While you are at it, turn in your license when you go into a bar! Blow clean and they hand it back. Great idea! I will write the DOT and show you as a supporter.

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