Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2017
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Ian MacAlpine
Page: A1


The legalization of cannabis and the challenge of detecting drivers
who are high on Ontario roads once the drug is legalized on Canada Day
next year is one of the many community safety subjects being discussed
at the Ontario Chiefs of Police board of directors meeting at the Four
Points by Sheraton in Kingston on Monday and Tuesday.

Some of the other items being discussed by the 18-member board include
public policy changes in Ontario, the future of policing, new
legislation on the Safer Strategy for Ontario, and further investment
in the Ontario Police College.

In attendance are Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Vince Hawkes,
a representative of the Ontario government and 18 chiefs and
high-ranking police officials from the federal, provincial, local and
First Nations police services.

The board meets quarterly in different parts of the province to
discuss a variety of public safety issues.

Bryan Larkin, chief of the Waterloo Regional Police Service and
president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, along with
Kingston Police Chief Gilles Larochelle met with the media during a
Monday morning break. "How do we balance all the demands on policing
to make sure that we continue to provide safe communities, levels of
service for everyday demands on policing but understand what the
future is holding for us," Larkin said.

Police need to be ready for whatever happens in the future, Larkin
said, with Larochelle by his side.

"From a provincial perspective, some of the challenges we're facing is
the preparedness," Larkin said. "We know this piece of legislation is
coming and we've been heavily engaged and involved in the dialogue."

Larkin said the Ontario government is better prepared for the drug to
be legalized by July 1 but there's still lots to do.

"Yes, we still believe they're behind and that's what worries us,"
Larkin said.

Larkin said the association likes the regulatory framework behind the
legislation, and graduated licensing that calls for zero amounts of
marijuana in a driver's system if they're under 21 years old is good,
but they're looking for zero tolerance for anyone driving high.

Larkin admitted that testing someone for drugs in their system is more
difficult that detecting alcohol.

"We have certified devices [for alcohol detection], we have
instruments that can measure all those pieces so we feel very
confident in that. We don't have the same confidence [in drug
detection]," he said.

Police departments in Ontario have tried to work with the federal
government on a national training program to come up with devices to
detect drugs, Larkin said, but they haven't found a solution yet,
"with the cost of that and the financial resources."

"I don't think any of the chiefs in the province are against the good
work that the federal government has put in," Larochelle said. "It's
about timing, putting the energy into it and about cost, and it's
ensuring we get it right from the beginning."

A challenge for police departments is training the 20,000 police
officers in the province to be able to detect whether someone is
driving high.

Larkin said tht when someone is being trained, that's one fewer person
working in the field.

Larochelle said training officers will send police department budgets

"It's about the cost of doing business. You want to get it right, you
want to train the officers, but there's a cost to it," he said.

Larochelle is preparing his budget for next year and outside
challenges, such as the legalization of cannabis, may influence the

"There's an impact to a small or mediumsized police service," he

Without a scientific tool to detect how impaired by drugs someone is,
more officers need to be trained as drug recognition experts (DREs).

"They are able, through their training, to assess if an individual is
high on marijuana," Larochelle said.

He said it's always more of a challenge in court if police don't have
a proper measuring tool and are just using the officer's observations,
Larochelle said.

Larkin said there is a saliva-based test for the presence of cannabis,
but he relies on DREs for the next level of testing.

Larkin said they need to double the number of officers who are trained
in drug detection and have the training take place at the Ontario
Police College in Aylmer rather than in the United States, as it is

"Of course it's very costly to send officers to the United States for
training," Larkin said.
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