Last week at 3am on Friday morning, Buffalo Police and first responders saved a man from overdosing on heroin. In the thick of an epidemic facing the region – almost 400 heroin related overdose deaths since 2014 – this was the first time that emergency services were provided to a Buffalo Police officer.
The 26-year-old man had been a member of the Buffalo Police Force for the last two years. He was saved by being administered two doses of Narcan, an opiate antidote, and is luckily recovering. The daunting event sheds even more reality of the problem of substance abuse in the region, having a man employed to prevent such events from happening overdose himself.
With the story surrounding the man’s overdose, questions were raised when it was revealed that no one employed by the Buffalo Police Dept. has been drug tested for over two years.
The last doctor who administered random drug tests to Buffalo Police left his contract two years ago, leaving the position void, and meaning no one would be drug tested.
Another officer aware of the overdose of his comrade had this to say, reported by the Buffalo News.
“The department has a zero-tolerance policy on drugs, and something like this really is shocking. Right now, we are in shock mode. This is unheard of.”
How could the department have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs without any form of employment drug testing?
“This is the first time we have had an officer who had taken heroin. We’ve had other officers in the past who have lost their jobs because they tested positive for marijuana or cocaine, but this is the first time we’ve had heroin.”
The department normally conducts random drug testing on officers at least once a year, but haven’t for over two years. Police Benevolent Association President Kevin Kennedy claimed that finding a new source for drug testing is a top priority.
“The city is hoping to have a new medical review officer in place by April or May and the plan is to have 100 percent testing every year for four years,” Kennedy said.
The role of a medical review officer is to set the protocol for testing and examine lab test results to verify if anyone has violated the department’s zero-tolerance policy for illegal drug use. Mayor Byron Brown didn’t directly answer why the position hasn’t been filled for over two years, but he had this to say, as reported by WGRZ.
“We have an RFP that’s in the field. The language in the RFP has been agreed to by the police management and the PBA,” said Brown. “We expect to have a doctor retained soon to do that kind of work.”
The fact that the officer survived the overdose is extremely fortunate, but it is baffling how no drug testing has been administered to Buffalo Police Officers for over two years. There are countless benefits to pre employment, reasonable suspicion, and random drug testing. It almost always benefits the employer, in the sense of weeding out any suspected substance abuse of their employees, but with the rise in overdose related deaths in Western New York, drug testing also ensures the safety and wellbeing of the employees themselves.
For more information on employee drug testing, please feel free to contact us or give us a call at (716) 332-2274.