Pubdate: Thu, 08 Jun 2000
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Author: Andrew Gannon
Note: Andrew Gannon may be contacted at (732) 557-5737 or DRUG POLICY REVISED; JAIL GUARD REGAINS JOB

A corrections officer who says he was wrongly dismissed from his job six 
months ago for failing a drug test after eating a bagel with poppy seeds 
will go back to work at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in the 
Avenel section of Woodbridge Saturday.

State Attorney General John J. Farmer Jr. announced the adoption of a 
revised drug testing policy on Tuesday, resulting in reinstatement of 
Reginald Fredette of Jackson.

But Fredette said yesterday that despite being pleased that his name is 
being cleared, he was not satisfied with the state's "compromise" policy.

Fredette said the new policy still relies too heavily on stringent opiate 
levels and could result in fellow officers being persecuted in the future.

According to the state's new two-tiered opiate testing policy, a urine 
sample from a law enforcement worker that tests positive for an 
"unspecified opiate" at a concentration of 300 nanograms per milliliter or 
higher will undergo further "confirmation" tests to target for illicit 
drugs, such as heroin.

If subsequent tests come back negative, no further action will be taken.

However, a concentration of 2,000 nanograms per milliliter or more will 
result in immediate dismissal, First Assistant Attorney General Paul H. 
Zoubek said yesterday. Most experts agree that there can be no explanation 
for such a reading other than illegal drug use, he said.

The federal government adopted such a threshold in 1998 after finding the 
300-nanogram level produced too many false positives caused by poppy seeds 
and over-the-counter medications.

Fredette tested positive in November at 863 nanograms per milliliter, but 
since further tests were "inconclusive," Zoubek said, the appropriate 
action was to give him his job back and pay him retroactively, minus his 
unemployment payments.
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