Pubdate: Sun, 05 September 1999
Source: Daily Record, The (NJ)
Copyright: 1999 Gannett Satellite Information Network Inc.
Contact:  800 Jefferson Road, Parsippany,   N.J.  07054
Author: Fred Snowflack, Editorial page editor, Bill donnellon, Editor


All law enforcement officials in nearby Passaic County will be subject to
random drug tests beginning next year.  The testing, which is in line with a
1997 state Supreme Court ruling, was announced Wednesday by prosecutor
Ronald S. Fava, the county's chief law enforcement official.

Random drug testing has been upheld by the courts in most instances, but
those who truly care about privacy rights have got to be dismayed.

Nobody wants police officers, of the people, to be strung out on drugs.
That's a given.

But what also should be a given are the two words, "probable cause." If
authorities have legitimate reason to believe Officer John Doe is using
drugs, then by all means, test him.

But to simply demand that officers submit to drug testing for no reason is
wrong.  From a constitutional perspective, it's similar to demanding that
all officers submit to a search of their home just in case illegal drugs are
in the basement.

The American system does not require people to prove their innocence.

The state Supreme Court ruling upholding drug tests stemmed from a case
involving NJ Transit police. The state Attorney General's Office responded
by recommending drug testing for all local offices in the state, which means
the issue eventually may come home to Morris County.

Passaic's is the first county to comply with the Attorney General's
recommendations.  Let's hope it's the last.

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