Occupy protestors in Minnesota are alleging that police gave drugs to young people as part of an 'impairment study' that helps officers identify the symptoms of drug use.
In a video (watch above), activists claim that for three weeks, law enforcement officers have been picking up volunteers to participate in a program called "Drug Recognition Expert."
The footage shows alleged participants in the scheme, including one who claims, "They [the police] come into downtown... and basically pick up random people, and ask them to do drug evaluations."
The man adds, "They let you smoke and then they send you back to Occupy [demonstration in Peavy Plaza]. You smoke right in front of them."
One man featured in the video is seen discussing the scheme with another who has apparently just returned from a police facility where the training was taking place. The man says "Can I do it?" and is then shown being introduced to officers by the supposed previous participant, before getting into a Kanabec County Sherrif's Department cruiser and leaving with officers.
Citypages.com reports that police patrol downtown Minneapolis looking for impaired people, then drive them to a testing facility in Richfield for examination of their capabilities while intoxicated. But in some cases where no previously impaired people could be found, police are alleged to have seduced prospective participants with drugs.
People in the video are seen discussing police officers giving them marijuana to smoke for evaluation purposes. However, one subject also said officers were interested in obtaining subjects already under the influence of harder drugs.
He says "One of them [police officers] told me "I'm looking for something more harder [sic]. Someone to do meth or coke or something like that."
Officers are certified as Drug Recognition Experts as part of the Drug Recognition Program. According to one Minnesota Sherrif's Department website, the program is designed to help officers "better recognize and remove drug impaired drivers from our roadways."
Working with people under the influence of drugs is standard training for officers being trained under the drug recognition program.
The same website describes what DRE training entails:
Training to be a DRE is difficult and extremely extensive. Many officers say that it is the most difficult training that they have ever attended (including their academy). The training consists of nine days of classroom training. Here, you will learn about human physiology, the 12 step process, documentation of your observations, courtroom testimony, medical conditions, indications of each specific drug category, and enhance your SFST skills. Step 2 is certification training. During this phase, the newly trained DREs will sharpen their detection and interpretation skills on actual drug impaired subjects. This portion of training was completed in Minneapolis, MN. There are also several tests and quizzes during the process.
The Drug Recognition Program began in the The Los Angeles Police Department in the early 1970s and is widely in use throughout the United States.
Minnesota law enforcement has a history of reaching out to the drug-using community for help with DRE training. CBS News reports that when the State Patrol needed a real-life laboratory, the state's Needle Exchange program — part of the Minnesota AIDS Project — lent a hand.
The organization put out an ad to its clients, many who used drugs. It asked them to show up under the influence, and advertised that they would receive rewards and incentives in return. Officers noted that users were not offered money or any illegal incentives.
UPDATE: Lieutenant Eric Roeske, Public Information Officer/Spokesperson for the Minnesota State Patrol, denied the accusations. "It is against our policies and against the law to provide people with any sort any sort of illegal drugs or to allow them to use them in our presence," he said. "We have found no evidence or information that substantiated the allegations made in the video."
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