HR Strange But True!
April 13, 2009

A fired New York City police officer has an unusual excuse for why he tested positive for cocaine. The man argues that he never intentionally ingested cocaine but tested positive because he had intimate contact with his girlfriend, an admitted cocaine user.

A 15-year veteran in the New York Police Department, the officer said he has never knowingly taken drugs and never suspected that his girlfriend used cocaine until the Internal Affairs Bureau contacted him in October 2006 about testing positive for the drug. Upon hearing the results, the man confronted his girlfriend, who admitted she was a user, the man testified. He said that he ended the relationship immediately.

The man was charged with two administrative counts of violating NYPD regulations for the possession and use of cocaine.

During the administrative trial before the Assistant Deputy Commissioner, the man sought to prove that he tested positive for cocaine because of contact with his girlfriend's bodily fluids during periods of physical intimacy.

The officer's witnesses included his former girlfriend, other officers who said they never saw him use illegal substances, and two experts.

The police department called as a witness the scientific director of the company that conducts the drug tests for the department. The expert testified the that the samples from the officer's drug test disclosed the presence of cocaine in his system at a level four times greater than the level that might indicate inadvertent exposure. The expert concluded that the officer deliberately ingested cocaine.

The Assistant Deputy Commissioner rejected the officer's arguments and found the officer guilty of both charges of possession and of using cocaine.

The Assistant Deputy Commissioner said the officer “established no more than the mere possibility that his positive test results were the result of unknowing ingestion and because the testimony of the department's expert refuted even the possibility that unknowing ingestion could have produced the cocaine levels detected in his hair.”

In 2008, the Commissioner of the NYPD approved the decision and dismissed the officer. The officer appealed, arguing that the decision was contrary to the weight of evidence and that the drug test of his hair was unlawful. He argued that the test was unlawful because subsequent to his testing, trial, and dismissal, a court found that the manner of administering drug tests was a matter subject to collective bargaining, and that the NYPD could not unilaterally alter its method of drug testing from urinalysis to hair testing.

However, a state Supreme Court judge ruled against the fired officer, saying that there was a rational basis for the decision and that the consideration of the drug test doesn't invalidate the department's decision to dismiss him.

The judge said the officer had participated in the drug test voluntarily and never objected to the collection of his hair sample for the drug test. The judge also said that “suppression of the drug test would do little if anything to deter wrongful police conduct in the future, while seriously hindering the truth-finding process by precluding what was found to be highly probative evidence.”

Source: Supreme Court of the State of New York

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