Pubdate: Fri, 10 Mar 2017
Source: Prince Albert Daily Herald (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 Prince Albert Daily Herald
Author: Peter Lozinski


Officers from across the province, including in P.A. undergo training
to help take those who are driving while impaired by drugs off the

Police across the province learning how to identify drivers impaired
by drugs A number of police officers from across Saskatchewan,
including members of the Prince Albert Police Service, are receiving
training to learn how to recognize drivers impaired by drugs.

Unlike impaired driving due to alcohol, there is no roadside-screening
device which can indicate whether someone has been driving under the
influence of a drug to the point where they have become impaired.

"We can test for the presence of drugs, but to determine the
impairment, that part we don't have," said RCMP Cpl. Brian Ferguson,
the Provincial Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) coordinator. "That's why
we go through the evaluation procedure. It's the only tool we have
that's current to determine impairment by drugs when you're driving."

When a trained and certified police officer suspects a person is
impaired by drugs, they follow a 12-step procedure to perform an
evaluation on the suspected impaired driver.

The Opinion of the DRE is the officer's opinion based on his training,
experience and the test results. While they use a drug matrix, they
also rely heavily on their training and experience.

After the evaluation, the toxicological sample is sent to a forensic
lab for analysis to confirm or refute the findings of the officer.
Presence of a drug is not sufficient evidence to lay a charge, though.
The evaluation must show impairment, signs and symptoms consistent
with a drug and the finding must be supported by the toxicological

The procedure is authorized for use in Canada to evaluate suspected
drug-impaired drivers.

>From Jan. 9 until Jan. 20, members of the Saskatchewan RCMP, as well
as the Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert Police Services, trained in
Regina to become DREs as a part of the International Association of
Chiefs of Police Drug Recognition Expert Program.

The 15 officers that completed the intensive two-week theory portion
of the training headed down to the US on Feb. 23 to complete week-long
practical field evaluations to become fully certified.

It's fairly intensive in regards to the different drug categories, and
recognizing symptoms and signs of impairment by drugs," Ferguson said.

During the field evaluation portion of their training, officers
complete at least 12 evaluations, six themselves, and six as an observer.

"They test doing evaluations on drug-impaired subjects," Ferguson

"They have to make a call based on what they see and observe, in
regards to if that person is impaired and what drug category they
believe that person was impaired by."

With the Liberal government's promise to legalize marijuana, being
able to recognize drug-impaired drivers is more important than ever.

"It's going to become a reality for us," Ferguson said. "In what form
we don't know yet, but when it does come out, we want to make sure
we're as ahead of the game as we can be."

Currently, 50 officers in the province are DRE certified, including
two in P.A. The goal is to train as many officers as possible.

'We've had interest from every police service in the province,"
Ferguson said. "In partnership with SGI and the drug strategy we have,
we're committed to training all of the RCMP, and the municipal
services in DRE so we can get more of them on the roads."

The pair of Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) members who have
completed DRE training weren't available for comment.

PAPS has indicated it will connect the local trained officers with the
Herald for a future interview.
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