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July 31, 2006
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Drug tests a failure for Boston police

The Associated Press

BOSTON– Seventy-five Boston police officers have failed drug tests since the department started screening for drugs in 1999, and 26 have been fired after flunking a second test, according to department statistics.

An additional 20 of the officers who tested positive resigned because they could not handle the followup checks, acting Police Commissioner Albert Goslin said.

The failed tests included 61 for cocaine, 14 for marijuana, two for Ecstasy, and one for heroin, according to the data obtained by the Boston Sunday Globe through a public records request. Some officers had more than one drug in their system. The force has about 2,000 sworn officers.

Some specialists questioned the department’s policy that gives officers a second chance after a positive test.

Eugene O’Donnell, a former New York City police officer who is now a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, thinks Boston police may have an unusually high number of drug users because of the policy. The New York Police Department has a low drug test failure rate because of its zero tolerance policy, he said.

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