No police have tested positive for drugs in last the three years – New Zealand Herald

According to the New Zealand Police website, it employs more than 13,000 staff. Photo / NZPA
Multimedia Journalist, NZME
No members of the New Zealand Police workforce – which totals more than 13,000 people – have tested positive for illegal drugs over the past three years.
It comes after it was revealed 62 members of the New Zealand Defence Force had tested positive for class A, B, or C drugs over the same timeframe.
READ MORE: How often defence force staff tested positive for illegal drugs
Class A drugs are considered very high-risk and include methamphetamine, magic mushrooms, cocaine, heroin and LSD (acid).
Class B drugs are high-risk and include cannabis oil, hashish, morphine, opium, ecstasy and many amphetamine-type substances.
Class C drugs, meanwhile, are moderate risk and include cannabis plant, cannabis seed and codeine.
Police safer people director Superintendent Mel Aitken, via an Official Information Act response, said its Drug and Alcohol Policy was focused on testing at key moments like at recruitment or after a critical incident, as well as testing key workgroups where an impairment would be “particularly risky” to themselves or the public.
No staff had tested positive for illegal drugs between January 1, 2019, and November 9, 2021, but four staff had been dismissed as a result of serious misconduct “for any cause”, director of integrity and conduct Superintendent Jason Guthrie revealed in a separate OIA response. This consists of two constables, one sergeant and one non-constabulary employee.
According to the New Zealand Police website, it employs more than 13,000 staff. There were 10,093 full-time officers as of October 31, 2021, an OIA revealed, including 773 in the Bay of Plenty district.
Aitken said the total number of staff tested for drugs in any one year was only a small proportion of their overall numbers.
“Generally, staff are aware that they will be tested at the moments or in these workgroups when they commit to undertake these roles.
“Typically, we find our staff are keen to comply with rules they understand to be in place to keep both themselves and the public we serve safe.”
No tests were under investigation as of January 25, 2022, and New Zealand Police did not conduct random testing.
Instead, there were four categories of drug and alcohol testing:
• Pre-employment: One test prior to employment;
• Critical incident (constabulary): For officers involved in a critical incident where they discharged a firearm or where their actions may have contributed to death or life-threatening injury;
• Reasonable cause: As needed;
• Designated workgroups (constabulary): At least once every two years for Special Tactics Group, Armed Offenders Squad, Airport Police and operational dog handlers.
Meanwhile, before the policy was introduced on October 1, 2019, drug tests were only conducted after critical incidents.
Aitken said the policy focuses on prevention and rehabilitation, and that each case is treated individually and there is no “one size fits all” approach.
“Police’s Drug and Alcohol Policy has been developed to protect the wellness of all employees, as well as the integrity, reputation, and effectiveness of New Zealand Police.
“It is important to note that the policy is focused on testing at key moments, such as at recruitment or after a critical incident, as well as testing key workgroups for whom such an impairment would be particularly risky to themselves or the public.
“While an employee may need to engage in a disciplinary pathway, and dismissal may be necessary in some circumstances, a rehabilitative approach will be adopted wherever possible.”
Police Association president Chris Cahill said it was “naive” to conclude from the data that no police staff took illegal drugs.
He also said there was no evidence of drug use being a problem within the police, therefore the testing results were not “particularly surprising”.
“However, we also accept there are small numbers of staff tested, so while it is indicative of the fact the problem is not widespread, we accept that does not mean there are not isolated incidents.”
Cahill said the association would encourage a welfare-based approach if anyone in the workforce was concerned about their own drug use or someone else’s.
“They should raise it with the person first, to see if they need help or support, or alternatively with wellness,” he said.
“The policy provides for a rehabilitation approach. If there is a risk that someone is unsafe to be at work, that should be immediately raised with a supervisor or higher.
“If there are legitimate concerns about criminal offending like possession or supply, then there are obviously internal avenues for that too.”
Elsewhere, it was reported last month 62 members of the NZDF tested positive for class A, B, or C drugs and some a combination of illegal drugs after more than 8000 tests were taken between 2019 and December 14, 2021.
Punishments ranged from fines, detentions, reductions in ranks, and in five cases, dismissal.
Details from an Official Information Act request to the NZDF revealed the service, location, class of drug and punishment of each member who tested positive.
In 2019, an Army member in Tauranga tested positive for a class B drug and received 16 days’ detention as punishment.
In 2020, an Army member in Rotorua tested positive for a class C drug and received a $250 fine and 14 days’ detention.
And in 2021, two Army members in Pāpāmoa tested positive for a class B drug, with one receiving a $1304.10 fine and reprimand and the other 18 days’ detention.

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