Pubdate: Fri, 20 Sep 2002
Source: News & Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2002 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Irvin Lee Allcox, Ralph Steele


Dicey Drug Tests

I am a retired law enforcement officer with 30 years of experience in drug 
enforcement, including 20 years as a forensic chemist in the SBI Crime 
Laboratory. I have testified in state, military and federal courts on over 
500 occasions as an expert witness in forensic chemistry.

The screening tests for drugs that were described in Ruth Sheehan's Sept. 
12 column "In danger of going too far" are only preliminary tests and do 
not prove the presence of a drug. These screening tests are not new and 
have been used for many years by law enforcement officers to obtain 
"probable cause" for an arrest warrant or a search warrant.

These tests are very subjective and substances other than drugs may give a 
false positive result. A complete chemical analysis of the substance is 
required to identify the drug before a judge will allow it to be introduced 
as evidence. I have seen many cases over the years where law enforcement 
officers, who were trained in the use of these screening tests, have 
incorrectly identified a drug, resulting in criminal charges against an 
individual that were later dismissed after the crime laboratory analysis.

Unless the Wake County Public School System is going to follow up these 
screening tests with a complete chemical analysis of the suspected 
substances, school officials should be very careful with whatever action 
they take based on the results of these screening tests.

Irvin Lee Allcox


- ---------------------------------------------

Effective Drug-Fighter

It's no surprise to me that Ruth Sheehan (column, Sept. 12) is 
"disconcerted" by Corey Duber's methods as the Wake schools' senior 
security director [Duber, among others, is supporting a pilot program to 
help detect illegal drug use]. Liberals seem to have no problems writing 
columns bemoaning drugs and guns in our school, but when the rubber meets 
the road, they're always crying the blues about poor little Johnny (the one 
with the gun and the ounce of crack) being deprived of an education.

Duber is a dedicated professional that the Wake County school system is 
lucky to have. Unlike column writers, he recognizes that complaining about 
problems without a plan to fix them is a waste of time. He also recognizes 
that the vast majority of parents want a clean and safe school for their 
children, period.

He is also fair and honest, and if he says that the drug test won't be 
misused it's a safe bet that he'll make sure it isn't. Speak up, parents: 
what are your priorities? Do you want drugs, with the theft and violence 
that inevitably accompany them, in your child's school? Or do you want 
somebody like Duber to do everything he can to make sure that it's a non-issue?

Ralph Steele

- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Stevens