City cops still with­out pot pol­icy

Chief Devine hop­ing to dis­cuss is­sue with po­lice as­so­ci­a­tion


While some po­lice ser­vices are im­ple­ment­ing poli­cies to pro­hibit or limit off-duty cannabis use, North Bay Po­lice Chief Shawn Devine wants to dis­cuss the is­sue with the lo­cal po­lice as­so­ci­a­tion.

“We did re­ceive a doc­u­ment with re­gard to po­lice ser­vices and what they’re do­ing within their own or­ga­ni­za­tions with re­gard to le­gal­iza­tion and use by mem­bers of po­lice or­ga­ni­za­tions through the On­tario As­so­ci­a­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice,” Devine says.

“We’re look­ing at that doc­u­ment right now and we would like to have a con­ver­sa­tion with our as­so­ci­a­tion to see how that is go­ing to roll out with re­gard to stand­ing oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures within our own or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

The RCMP and the Toronto po­lice ser­vice are both eye­ing a rule that would ban cannabis use by mem­bers within 28 days of a shift. The Cal­gary po­lice ser­vice’s pol­icy is even stricter, for­bid­ding the vast ma­jor­ity of of­fi­cers from con­sum­ing mar­i­juana dur­ing their down time once recre­ational use of the drug be­comes le­gal Oct. 17.

Such mea­sures have sparked an outcry from a na­tional as­so­ci­a­tion that rep­re­sents front-line of­fi­cers.

Tom Sta­matakis, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion, wonders why cer­tain ser­vices are treat­ing cannabis dif­fer­ently than other le­gal prod­ucts — such as al­co­hol and pre­scrip­tion drugs — that can cause im­pair­ment.

“Ef­fec­tively what they’re say­ing is, ‘We don’t trust po­lice of­fi­cers to make the right de­ci­sion when it comes to re­port­ing for work fit for duty,’” Sta­matakis said in an in­ter­view. “And I just find that to be an of­fen­sive ap­proach.”

There has been no mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tion on the draft­ing and im­ple­men­ta­tion of cannabis poli­cies for of­fi­cers, which vary dras­ti­cally from ser­vice to ser­vice, sta­matakis says.

devine ad­mits there isn’t a po­lice ser­vice that is 100 per cent ready for le­gal­iza­tion of recre­ational mar­i­juana use next week.

“We don’t have a crys­tal ball and there will be some new chal­lenges that will be pre­sented,” devine said fol­low­ing Tues­day’s monthly po­lice ser­vices board meet­ing.

“The gov­ern­ment is pro­vid­ing some leg­is­la­tion. how­ever, in­di­vid­ual or­ga­ni­za­tions will have to make their own de­ci­sions. right now, there’s still a lot of ques­tions.”

devine says there’s been a lot of con­ver­sa­tion re­gard­ing the new weed test­ing ma­chine – drager drugtest 5000 – which can de­tect the pres­ence of cannabis in a per­son’s sys­tem if they’re in­volved in a driv­ing in­ci­dent.

“I want to make it clear that we still have tools with re­gard to im­pair­ment other than just al­co­hol. We have mem­bers who are trained with re­gard to drug recog­ni­tion and it is still il­le­gal to drive a mo­tor ve­hi­cle while im­paired – any drug – whether med­i­ca­tion, le­gal drugs or al­co­hol. And there are con­se­quences,” he says.

“Last month, 50 of­fi­cers were trained in drug recog­ni­tion. I would be very re­luc­tant to say there’s go­ing to be any quick so­lu­tion to a ma­chine that some­one can pull and take a saliva test that will give you an ac­cu­rate amount of what the con­tent of cannabis is in the body.”

devine says im­paired driv­ing can be de­tected by the way some­one is driv­ing.

“If some­one is swerv­ing, it doesn’t mean we have to prove some­one has a cer­tain level or amount of cannabis. If it can be proven in court you have been us­ing cannabis and it has af­fected your driv­ing, you can be found guilty of a driv­ing of­fence un­der the crim­i­nal code.”


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