West Shore RCMP has four officers specially trained as Drug Recognition Experts. (Black Press Media file photo)

West Shore RCMP has four officers specially trained as Drug Recognition Experts. (Black Press Media file photo)

A glimpse into the role of a Drug Recognition Expert at West Shore RCMP

Police department has four officers specially trained in drug recognition

Driving while impaired is a dangerous crime, luckily there are officers on the West Shore specially trained to catch this act.

While every officer receives standardized training to recognize whether someone is driving under the influence, there are officers who take this practice one step further.

Const. John Taylor is one of four officers on the West Shore who holds the status of Drug Recognition Expert. Taylor said the training required is “intense,” but fascinating.

“I enjoy seeing how the body reacts to different combinations of drugs, it is amazing,” said Taylor. “Every different category of a drug a person takes changes how the systems function and affects every aspect of the body. It’s very interesting to see that happen.”

Taylor took a three-week program in Vancouver, where he became proficient at testing in order to be certified.

“There was no room for error in the testing process. During the training we had to test a minimum number of people in all categories of drugs, and we had to get all of the tests right,” said Taylor.

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There are seven different categories of drugs that Drug Recognition Experts focus on – depressants, inhalants, dissociatives, anesthetics, cannabis, stimulants and narcotics.

During the program Taylor attended, they tested volunteer subjects in a controlled environment at the Vancouver Police Department.

“We saw just about every kind of category of drug out there,” said Taylor.

Typically in a day at the office, Taylor works in the crime reduction unit. When someone is suspected to have been driving impaired, then a Drug Recognition Expert, such as Taylor, is called to assist.

There is a 12 step process to determine if someone is driving under the influence.

“We look at things like eyes, muscle tone, psycho-physical abilities, balance, how they follow instructions, and then from that process, if we believe that they are impaired, we will make a demand for a urine sample,” said Taylor, adding that results from the urine test can take up to six months to return.

If the results show the presence of drugs, then a 90 day prohibition is issued to the driver. If the driver in question refuses to provide a urine sample, they are issused a prohibition.

Taylor has been working with the West Shore department for the last year and a half, and before that, worked in Duncan for almost six years.

“I love it here, it is a fantastic place to work,” he said. “The people, mayor and council are all very supportive, and the officer in charge, Todd Preston, is also a wonderful person to work for.”

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