Newsbrief: Who Wants Drug Testing? Not Pennsylvania Cops, Not Colorado Teachers 3/14/03

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Police officers in Allentown, PA, and teachers in Aspen, CO, are among the latest groups being pushed to submit to intrusive drug test regimes, and they don't like it one bit.

In Colorado, the Colorado Education Association (CEA) announced February 28 that it opposes a proposal by the Aspen school district to require random drug testing of teachers. The proposal for random drug tests, made by school superintendent Tom Farrell after an Aspen Middle School teacher was arrested on marijuana possession charges outside a local nightclub, would be unique in the state, said a CEA representative.

"In individual instances there is drug testing, but it's for reasonable cause," CEA spokeswoman Jeanne Beyer told the Denver Post, rejecting the random testing proposal. "There should be testing only if an administrator has a reason to believe a teacher is using drugs."

Meanwhile, in Allentown, PA, angry police officers took to the streets in a loud march led by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) protesting Mayor Roy Afflerbech's effort to rewrite the police department's policy on officers with drug involvement. Currently, that policy requires that officers who test positive for drugs be suspended without pay for 30 days, undergo drug counseling, and be subject to random drug tests for the next year. Afflerbach and Police Chief Stephen Kuhn are pressing for a policy that would mean dismissal for anyone testing positive.

Despite the protest, Afflerbach remained unmoved, accusing the FOP of creating "a potentially dangerous situation [for police] every time they have to depend on an officer who has demonstrated a weakness to use illegal drugs" in a statement issued after the march. "When the FOP leadership in this city and this commonwealth decides to stop supporting these lawbreaking officers and joins in our efforts to implement a zero-tolerance drug policy in the police force, I will commend them."

"Mr. Mayor, be careful of the bitter words you speak, for you may have to eat them someday," replied state FOP vice president Paul McCommons, adding that Afflerbach was tarnishing the police with "false gossip and accusations."

Welcome to the drug war, guys.

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