Police Drug Testing Information

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Like any other employee with immense responsibility and control of safety-sensitive materials, a police officer must undergo drug testing to verify their drug-free status. Being aware of oneself and surroundings is vital to the safety of the police officer and any civilians he or she may be responsible for at any point. This is especially true when he or she is in a position where they must use a weapon of any sort to maintain order.

Drug Testing Policy of Police Officers

NIDA 5 drug tests are often used to screen potential police candidates before employment. The National Institute on Drug Abuse orders officers to be drug testing for the following substances (at minimum):

  • Marijuana (THC)
  • Cocaine (COC)
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Opiates (OPI)
  • Amphetamines (AMP)

How Do Police Departments Drug Test?

Police officer drug testing is conducted in a manner similar to corporate drug testing:

  1. Notice of pre-employment drug testing must be stated in the same literature describing the officer's duties. An appointment to drug test should be scheduled upon receiving an employment offer. Employability is determined by the results of the drug test. Applicants must receive a negative test result to become a police officer.

  2. Urine specimens are usually collected in the same region where the candidate applies to work. Only testing sites approved by the Department of Health and Humans Services may perform the drug test.

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  3. An FDA-approved immunoassay will be used for the initial test. This is usually an instant urine drug test cup which can detect up to 14 drugs of abuse

  4. If the preliminary result is positive, the sample will be retested using GC/MS techniques.

  5. A Medical Review Officer (MRO) will review test results and determine if it is, in fact, positive or negative after factoring in disclosed medical reasons for using drugs. This includes a discussion of the test result with the applicant, where they are given the opportunity to request verification of results at a different lab.

  6. A confirmed positive test result will result in rejection for employment.

  7. Test results are kept in the individual’s personal and confidential medical file. Rejected applicants will have their records retained for five years, while employed staff records are retained for ten years after they leave their position.

What Kind of Drug Test Do Police Officers Take?

Beyond the initial pre-employment drug test and background check, police officers may have to undergo periodic, random, and post-accident drug tests. Some police departments might only drug test employees once every two years, which leaves the institution at risk of drug abuse and accidents.

The most commonly used drug tests ordered for officers are urine drug test cups and instant saliva test kits. 

Rapid urine drug test cups like the 12 Panel iCup Urine Drug Test Cup with Adulterants are an affordable way to maintain zero-tolerance policies within law enforcement agencies.

For cases where recent drug abuse is suspected, mouth swab drug tests can detect the use of 6 commonly abused substances almost immediately after abuse.

What Happens if a Drug Test is Positive?

Officers involved in situations where force is required to subdue a perpetrator may need to submit to a post-accident drug test. This testing is done to verify that the officer involved was totally in control of their actions and not under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

If an officer tests positive for drugs or alcohol, counseling sessions and future drug testing may be required. Treatment programs are enforced as a component of the overall evaluation of an officer's performance.