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Thursday, Feb. 24, 2005 08:31 pm

Police leaks

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In addition to testing officers, Chief Don Kliment has also expanded the narcotics unit
PHOTO BY GINNY LEE

Springfield Police Chief Don Kliment has quietly beefed up drug enforcement both inside and outside the department. Not only has he doubled the manpower of SPD’s narcotics unit, he has also instituted a random drug testing procedure for current officers, causing cops to be subjected for the first time ever to the surprise call to submit a urine sample.

Previously, patrol officers could be tested for drugs or alcohol only “for just cause.” The new testing plan was negotiated with the Policemen’s Benevolent and Protective Agency Unit 5, the union representing patrol officers, and written into their current contract.

“We decided to invoke it about six times a year, with about eight officers at a time,” Kliment says.

The first random tests, involving eight officers, were conducted in December; a second batch of eight officers was tested earlier this month. So far, “all clean,” Kliment says.

Officers are selected by a computer program run by the testing company ChoicePoint. The computer produces a list of 20 names, and sends it to Pat Fogleman, the deputy chief. Fogleman starts at either the top or bottom of the list (he switches each time), and begins contacting the first eight officers working. The chosen eight receive hand-delivered notices that they’ve been selected through a “random lottery process.” Their prize: an order to report to the testing facility and rendezvous in a bathroom with a specimen bottle.

The notice states that refusal to submit to testing makes the officer “subject to discipline,” but so far, no one has refused, Fogleman says.

Meanwhile, Kliment has also strengthened his department’s efforts to fight drugs in the community. He has added more officers to the narcotics unit, which was a target of criticism during the 2003 city elections. Soon after Mayor Tim Davlin took office, then-chief John Harris increased the manpower from two officers to four plus a sergeant. Last month, Kliment added a second sergeant and two more officers, bringing the unit up to seven officers.

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