More local officers getting specialized training to spot drugged drivers

More local officers getting specialized training to spot drugged drivers

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - As the weekend approaches, officers spent several hours Friday night targeting drunk drivers at OVI checkpoints around Cincinnati.

But, there are other officers out there looking for more than those drinking and driving.

"A lot of officers understand what impairment is, but they can't always articulate in court because they don't have the knowledge or education or experience," said Milford Police Officer Russell Kenney.

Earlier this week, two police officers in Lebanon became the newest Drug Recognition Experts, or DRE.

"In our area, we have a DRE in just about every county," said Kenney, who also trains DRE officers and coordinates the DRE program in the area.

The goal is simple – to prevent crashes, injuries and death at the hands of impaired drivers.  A DRE officer is trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol, according to the International Drug Evaluation & Classification Program website.

"We've been doing it for six years.  We have around 165 DRE officers that have been trained throughout the state," Kenney told FOX19 NOW.

A DRE officer is trained to spot the drug-related impairment by utilizing a 12-step checklist that can be found here.

"They're able to articulate drug impairment other than alcohol and be able to differentiate between the drug impairment, medical impairment or alcohol impairment," Kenney explained.

Kenney says a DRE officer is at most OVI checkpoints in the area.  FOX19 NOW talked to officers at a checkpoint in Westwood on Friday.  There were two DRE officers at that checkpoint.

"You're going to lose.  If we find you operating a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we're going to arrest you," Kenney said.

DRE officers go through weeks of training and testing before being certified.  Kenney told FOX19 NOW the hope is to increase the total number of certified officers in Ohio from 165 to 200 by the end of the year.

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