Henn. Co. Attorney Won’t Charge Drug-Spotter Officers
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An investigation of alleged misconduct in a program that trains police officers in how to spot symptoms of drug use didn’t find enough evidence to bring criminal charges, Hennepin County prosecutor Mike Freeman said Friday.
The probe was launched last spring after some Occupy Minnesota activists accused police of offering them marijuana and incentives to participate in the program, and posted a video to back up their claims. One police officer also came forward to say he had seen another officer give marijuana to a potential subject.
But Freeman said an investigation found “insufficient evidence” to back up the claims.
“The people making the allegations gave differing accounts of what happened, their accounts were contradicted by other evidence, and there was no substantial evidence to corroborate any of the allegations,” Freeman said in a prepared statement.
The officer who came forward, he said, didn’t do so quickly enough and didn’t preserve the substance supposedly given to the test subject. His account of events also didn’t match that of the Occupy Minnesota member who allegedly got the marijuana, Freeman said.
A spokesman for Occupy Minnesota didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
Freeman said he had recommended a thorough review of the Drug Recognition Evaluator program, and several changes including more clearly communicating guidelines to officers.
The program trains officers on how to detect and remove impaired drivers from the road. It started in Minnesota in 1991 and has been managed since then by the state patrol, a division of the state Department of Public Safety. After classroom training to learn about drug categories and physiology, officers must perform 15 evaluations on people who are impaired by drugs. These volunteer subjects are monitored and typically recruited from the community, DPS said.
In a statement, DPS said the program remains suspended, and Freeman’s findings would be reviewed and made part of an ongoing internal investigation.
Public Safety Commissioner Mona Dohman said the training won’t resume “until we determine the appropriate actions necessary to restore public confidence and ensure the integrity of this important program.”
A state trooper who had been put on administrative leave, Nick Otterson, remained under that status Friday. The name of the Hutchinson officer accused of giving marijuana to an Occupy Minnesota activist wasn’t released, but he had remained on the job.
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