Pubdate: Tue, 16 Aug 2016
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network
Author: Damien Wood
Page: A3


Calgary force and colleagues push feds to develop screening

Driving impaired is driving impaired.

It doesn't matter what substance a person's on, but Calgary police and
their overseeing commission want to be ready when one in particular is

This weekend in Ottawa, at a Canadian Association of Police Governance
Conference, the Calgary Police Commission put forward a resolution to
continue pressure on the federal government to identify and approve a
roadside drug screening device, in light of the feds' commitment to
legalize and regulate marijuana by 2017.

"Currently, when police suspect a driver of being impaired by drugs, a
drug recognition expert is called to the scene to administer a field
sobriety test.

"A roadside drug screening device would greatly improve the ability of
police officers to detect drug impaired driving and provide objective
and efficient means of enforcing drug impaired driving laws," the
commission's resolution read, in part.

"A roadside drug testing regime would be similar to roadside breath
testing for alcohol.

"This capability would simplify the current investigative process for
drug impaired driving, including potentially reducing the time a
motorist is detained."

"Given the imminent legalization of marijuana and its proven negative
effect on drivers, there is now urgency around acquiring appropriate
tools in Canada to enable police to detect drug impaired drivers
roadside so they can effectively enforce road safety laws, especially
the stricter punishments for marijuana impaired drivers that
government intends to introduce," the resolution read.

Insp. Ken Thrower of the Calgary Police Service traffic unit told
Postmedia Monday there is a fear among law enforcement the laws might
be in place before officers on the streets have the device available
to them.

But he also said it's a complicated thing to tackle and likely will
not be as simple as suspected impaired drivers providing a breath
sample and passing or failing.

Thrower said equally key will be the training of more drug recognition
experts (DRE) - people who are trained to recognize the substance a
person is on from certain cues. CPS currently has many. Thrower wants
to see more. "This device is going to be an aid," Thrower said.

"If an officer pulls someone over ... it's going to be up to the
officer to do the same thing he always did with impaired driving -
they will call in the drug recognition officers and they're trained
specifically to evaluate and determine if it meets (impairment criteria).

"This device may help an officer determine, 'Yes, I need a DRE,' "
Thrower said.

There will be times, he indicated, when the signs of impairment are
obvious - driving all over the road, slurred speech, glassy eyes and
an inability to stand up are all strong indicators of impairment and
officers can immediately lay a charge.

Expressing worry over what's to come isn't meant to come across as a
rebuke to the feds or anyone else's stance on the matter, Thrower said.

He just wants to make sure his people have what they need to adapt to
the changes.

"For the people that will benefit from this, for whatever reason that
may be, whether it's for pleasure or it's for medical reasons, that's
a whole different discussion and that's fine - we just want to make
sure that people are safe," Thrower said.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt