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Drug testing policies have been adopted in a lot of institutions to try to keep the sanity of the staff members or other stake holders. It goes without saying therefore that these policies are often adopted in institutions or industries dealing with potential mind adjusting stimuli, like in the sport world, security firms, among others. What many people have never thought of, however, is that drug policies are also adopted in police departments.

Many police administrators have strived to confront this critical personnel problem without talking much about it over the years. Recently however, the police broke its silence about the use of drugs in its department and declared they will be adopting a drug testing policy to curb these personnel vice.  Given the sensitivity of this issue of drug use in the police force, it is inevitable that drug testing policies should adopt a cautious approach.   This is because any administrator would need the support of his/her employees before introducing such kind f a plan. This could be the difference between the success and the failure of such a program.

Bernards Township Police Department decided to adopt such kind of a Drug Testing policy, on its law enforcement officers, in July 2006, following a directive issued by its chief officer, Chief Robert E. Kumpf, Sr. this directive was to comply with the New Jersey Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Drug Testing Policy that had been revised in June 2001 and aimed to provide the guideline that this   department of will follow in conducting the drug testing exercise.

The participants

This directive identified that the drug testing policy will apply to the: applicants for the law enforcer positions, trainees of law enforcement, and sworn officers of law enforcement.  The directive also directed that applicants for the position of law enforcement officers should submit urine sample as test specimen anytime before they are appointed. On the other hand, trainees were required to submit one to two sample of urine over the course of a mandatory training program, and another sample any time his action has raised suspicion of drug use. For the sworn officers, samples were to be ordered from them whenever there was suspicion of drug use, or by random experimental selection, or during a regularly scheduled and announced health examination program.

Survey Conditions and Equipments

The directive insisted that all the officers that were subject to this policy should be effectively informed of the cause and effects of testing. For instance, the applicants should be let to know that the drug testing policy will be part of the employment procedures, and that failing the tests would lead to them being dropped from consideration, and their names reported to bar them from being considered in future law enforcement roles.   Trainees should also be informed that the drug testing was mandatory during training, and failing the tests would lead to newly appointed officers being cut off from employment, and that those who refused to take the tests would be banned from future law enforcement positions in the state of New Jersey.

On the other hand, sworn law enforcement officer who were suspected of using drugs should be informed that they were required to submit the urine samples for testing to prove the suspicion or discount it, and that the results observed would be documented. Before these officers could be asked to take these tests, there should exist a written statement with grounds for suspicion. The directive also suggested that failure of the drug tests by sworn suspicious officers would be the termination of employment, inclusion of name in the central registry, and permanent banishment from law enforcement practices in he state of New Jersey.

Sworn officers who are picked for random testing should also be informed that eligibility was accorded to all members of the municipal and county law enforcement agencies, and that this random testing could only be conducted on an annual basis. The random selection process was based on the officers’ badge numbers, selected randomly from a non-transparent container. The random selection process would be conducted by the PBA president or delegates. Selected individuals who are not available are expected to submit their samples to the monitor the next day they report to work, failure to which an alternate individual will be picked. The information about these kinds of tests was deemed confidential. Therefore, any officer who leaks the information will be subjected to punishment.

Monitors would be identified to lead the process of sample collection. These monitors will be of the same gender as the participants. However, the monitor did not need to watch the participant directly as they voided unless there was reason top do that. Through out the period of sample collection, the identities of participants will remain confidential. Specimen will be collected using equipments supplied and certified by the Toxicology laboratory, and the specimens would be acquired and processed according to the regulations and procedures of the State Toxicology Laboratory.  

This directive indicated that the New Jersey Toxicology Laboratory that is within the division of Criminal Justice was given the mandate to perform the tests and analyze the results. To facilitate accuracy of results, the urine sample should be submitted within a day of its collection and is stored by the Toxicology Laboratory in regulated temperature in the refrigerator. The samples will then be subjected to appropriate measures of testing to analyze them.  Each sample is analyzed by the State Toxicology Laboratory for the presence of: Amphetamine; Barbiturates; Benzodiazepines; Opioids; Cocaine; Methadone; and Phencyclides.     

Drug Test Results and their Consequences

The State Toxicology Laboratory is mandated to inform the law enforcement agency that presented samples of the presence of positive test results.  Reports on the positive test should be prepared within 15 working days of submission. Written documents are prepared to report the number that tested negative.

Participants who test positive for illegal use of drugs were immediately removed from consideration for employment by the department. The department further reported the offender to the Central Drug Registry which then precluded the offenders from future considerations for employment by ant law enforcement agencies in the county.

Conclusion

The directive that was issued by the chief of police at Bernards Town Police to initiate the drug testing policy in its police department was highly considerate. This is seen in the way it offers privacy and anonymity to the participants. It also appreciates the right of the participants to be informed of the possible consequences of engaging in illegal use of drugs.

However, the directive also has a lot of limitations. To start with, it discriminates between the different stages of the police department. The sworn law enforcement officers seem to get more liniment punishments for the same offence as the trainees or applicants to the position of law enforcement officers, who gets the worst form of punishment ranging from dismissal to reporting to the Central drug registry that went ahead to bar them from law enforcement practices for life.

There is therefore a higher chance of discontent arising among the junior officers. Most law enforcement officers are also not accustomed to policing themselves. It is these same officers that will be conducting tests on their fellow officers.  These officers may welcome the firm, decision to fight illegal use of drugs in the department, but they may not be wiling to subject their colleagues to disgrace and banishment. This coupled with the aspect of discrimination may cause this program to fail. However, its main point of success lies in the fact that it is wide spread across the state of New Jersey- and has involved the right organs, for instance, the State Toxicology Laboratory and the Central Drug Registry.

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