Originally created 02/08/02

Sheriff adopts drug testing



EDGEFIELD, S.C. - Edgefield County Sheriff Adell Dobey has instituted a random drug-screening program for sheriff's deputies to assure residents that officers are not using illegal drugs.

In his second year in office, Sheriff Dobey carried out a campaign promise to adopt Edgefield County's drug-testing policy for the sheriff's office. Edgefield has been testing county employees for at least six years, Edgefield County Administrator Wayne Adams said.

South Carolina law allows elected officials, such as Sheriff Dobey, to make their own decision about drug-testing policies, Mr. Adams said.

"For safety, security, ethical and moral reasons, I think the residents should know we are drug-free," Sheriff Dobey said. "Our integrity should be above reproach."

To begin the program, Sheriff Dobey, Chief Deputy Capt. Roger Lowe and two newly hired employees were tested at an Augusta laboratory. All four tested negative, he said.

All new employees will be tested, and random testing will be given to all deputies, jailers and dispatchers who are in what the sheriff describes as safety sensitive positions, he said.

The random testing schedule is set up by the testing facility and selects from Social Security numbers. "I am on the random list," Sheriff Dobey said.

Mr. Adams said most law enforcement agencies now consider the drug-testing of jailers and patrol officers to be an essential safeguard.

"Sheriff Dobey has done the right thing by testing these workers and has greatly lessened the county's legal exposure," Mr. Adams said. "Employees dealing with prisoners, carrying firearms or performing drug interdiction work are employees who should be tested."

Reach Carly Phillips at (803) 648-1395 or carly.phillips@augustachronicle.com.