NJ cops failed random drug tests at much lower rate than public
In the first year of New Jersey's required law enforcement random drug testing policy, eight police officers from six communities failed random drug tests. That's according to analysis by The Asbury Park Press, which said officers tested positive in Franklin Borough, North Bergen, Piscataway, Ridgewood, Weehawken and Woodland Park.
Records looked at involved more than 2,800 tests. Eight positive results out of roughly 34,000 officers in the state is about 0.02 percent of New Jersey law enforcement.
About 4 percent of the U.S. workforce — 3.6 percent in New Jersey — tested positive for drugs in 2017 random testing, according to an annual Drug Testing Index by Secaucus-based Quest Diagnostics, a medical testing company.
The Gannett New Jersey investigative report said tests found officers using drugs like marijuana, cocaine and the prescription opioid painkiller oxycodone, though some officers were able to produce prescriptions for whatever drug showed up on their test.
The directive from state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was made in March 2018. It followed a series by the Asbury Park Press, which found last year that more than 100 departments in the state had no random testing policy.
Under Grewal's directive, random drug testing was to be conducted at least once in the remainder of 2018 and at least twice in every subsequent calendar year. It also outlined "at least 10 percent of the total number of sworn officers within an agency shall be randomly tested each time."
Each county prosecutor is required to submit a year-end report by Jan. 31 to the attorney general through the Division of Criminal Justice's Prosecutors' Supervision and Training Bureau. The summary is meant to list county and municipal agencies that have followed through on the random tests and those that haven't. The report does not reveal any officer's identity.
Before the directive last spring, the Attorney General's Office had encouraged but not required law enforcement agencies to adopt a random drug testing component to departmental policies.
The Asbury Park Press reported that at least 32 agencies didn’t test as many officers as they’re required to. Results for the tests in 31 departments were still pending at the time of the report. There were no random drug tests issued in 2018 for at least four departments, including Colts Neck, Clayton, East Greenwich and Mullica.
The newspaper's analysis said "many departments across the state followed proper procedure and filed their reports on time. A handful of towns tested all of their officers."
The Press obtained records for all counties in the state except Essex, for which the Prosecutor’s Office provided none.