DRE Training

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DRE training is a different world

Last night I went up to Fullerton PD to do more DRE evaluations for my certification. I only had two left out of the twelve. It was a good feeling to know I was almost done.

During the process I got to see some interesting people and some interesting choices of clothing. You never knew what was going to walk in.

The first person that came in was so high he couldn’t sit still. He was going a 1,000 miles per hour and every part of his body was either twitching or moving. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut even if he wanted to. His lips were also cracked like a dry lake bed in the desert.

During the evaluation I instructed him to tilt his head back, close his eyes and count thirty seconds with his hands at his sides. It took forever for him to acknowledge the instructions and to listen. When he finally started the test I couldn’t help but laugh.

He tilted his head back and closed his eyes to start, but then he did something I have never seen before.

He raised his hands and pointed his index fingers. He then moved his hands up and down like he was conducting an orchestra. His hands were moving so fast, I assumed his imaginary orchestra was playing just as fast.

At the same time he mumbled at lightning speed. Then the mumble turned into an opera singer performing in a different language. Except this opera signer was high on meth. He was exhausting to watch and keep controlled.

After I was done with #12, I went to get something to eat with two other officers. We were sitting in the restaurant when one of them asked me what it felt like to be done.

“If someone told me six months ago I’d be at this point, I would’ve said they were crazy,” I replied.

I still have a few steps to go before I get my certification, but it’s all down hill from here. I’ve learned a lot during the process and I was certainly taken out of my comfort zone. I was resistant at first, but I’m glad I took the class.

I’ve also grown as an officer.

I want to thank the people at Fullerton PD, who put this class on and who run the evaluations. Their department is a leader in this training and I commend the people who run this program.

Their people are passionate about this and all of our departments can learn from them when it comes to DRE training.

Frank’s Back


Frank’s back!

A few days ago I posted a story about a drug addict and thief named Frank, who I met while doing my DRE certifications. They story got people talking because it’s been viewed over 4,300 times on Facebook.

If that story got you upset, then this one should leave you wondering WFT?

Last night I was back at Fullerton PD doing my DRE certifications and guess who I saw? If you said Frank, you’re right. He was under the influence again.

Part of me was surprised and part wasn’t shocked at all.

As soon as I saw Frank, I instantly thought of the story I wrote about him the other day. Frank wasn’t worried about jail then. And guess what? He’s still not worried about it now. Prop 47 says he gets a citation.

It’s his “get out of jail free” card. Actually, it’s a pink copy of his citation.

Remember, the citation is just the cost of doing business to Frank. As long as he signs his ticket he gets out of jail. If he gets a fine he just has to pay it. And where do you think he’ll get his money from?

You again!

He’s a thief and a criminal. That’s the way he described himself last week. Frank steals to pay for his meth, so that means he’ll  probably steal to pay for his fine too.

So, Frank just needs to visit your house, business or break into your car to get the money to pay off his debt. Problem solved. His fine is paid and he gets to roam your neighborhood to feed his habit. Oh, I forgot to mention that Frank is also a documented gang member.

Not to rub it in, but Frank would’ve stayed in custody if it wasn’t for Prop 47.

Some people think being under the influence is a “victimless crime.” Well, tell that to the person whose house or car was broken into. They’ll tell you they felt violated and were the real victims.

Who thought Prop 47 was a good idea anyways? Oh yeah, the people who voted it in. The Franks of the world thank you for it.

DRE School


What is a DRE?

If you asked me what a DRE was ten years ago I would have said it was an officer who dealt with street drugs and addicts. Those were two subjects that I stayed away from because they didn’t interest me.

Ask me the same question today and I’ll have an entirely different answer. In fact, I’ll talk your head off about the subject and tell you why it is so important.

The first thing I learned at DRE School was how much we take DRE trained officers for granted. The average cop has no idea what they do, or how much training they have been through. That includes the brand new cop all the way up to the chief of police. Unless you’ve been through the training, you have no idea how much work it is.

Say “DRE School” to most cops and they’ll run the other way. I know because I was one of them.

Cops would rather go to an active shooter call at a nuclear power plant meltdown than go to DRE School. Handling a triple fatality collision sounded much more appealing than going to DRE School.

On the first day, the instructors told us this was going to be the hardest advanced officer training class we would ever take. They weren’t lying.

The information was piled onto us with no mercy. It was like a wheel barrel pouring concrete onto a new house foundation. It went everywhere and there was no room to breathe.

My world suddenly revolved around CNS Depressants, CNS Stimulants, Hallucinogens, Dissociative Anesthetics, Narcotic Analgesics, Inhalants, Cannabis, nerves, neurotransmitters, blood pressure and heart rates.

The eyes were now the window to the soul as pupil sizes and reaction to light helped tell the tale of drug use.

By the third night I felt overwhelmed. I thought there was no way I was going to remember all of this stuff. It was like going up a steep mountain in a snowstorm with a strong headwind pounding my face.

There were two choices. Put up the white flag of surrender or I could listen to the “Eye of The Tiger” song from Rocky 3 and gut it out.

The first week of DRE School was like watching a foreign language film with no subtitles. I know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

At one point the light bulb switched on. It was dim at first, but then got brighter. The drug matrix card started to make sense after a while. It started to become more than just a bunch of boxes with words in them.

Slowly the subtitles started to appear in that foreign language film that made no sense a week before. Then, by some miracle it clicked.

What was once pure nonsense in the first week was now like listening to the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. It all came together. If you’ve heard the symphony, then you know what I mean.

Those two weeks of DRE School turned my household upside down. Everything revolved around my class. All scheduling for my kid’s school, childcare, practices and dinner was planned around my school and studying.

Then there was the occasional DRE dream where I was evaluating someone for drug use. Friends in the class told me they also had the dreams.

At the end of the class our main instructor asked us if we were ready to stop alienating our families and having those dreams. I laughed hard because it was so true.

So, what is this DRE class?

The Drug Recognition Expert program had its beginnings with the LAPD in the 1970s.

Before an officer can become a DRE they have to attend two prerequisite training classes, along with the 72 hour DRE School.

You must get 80% or higher to pass the class.

After passing the course, the officer must complete twelve under the influence evaluations with a DRE instructor present. The officer must be able to name which of the seven drug categories the suspect is under the influence of and this must be confirmed through the chemical test. And finally the officer must pass another written test after their drug evaluations have been approved.

This was not a class I signed up for. It was a class I was told I had to go to. I started out being forced to go, but I had an epiphany half way through. I saw just how important this training was for me. I realized how important it was for every officer on the street. I also saw how important it was for public safety.

Say “DUI” and people automatically think of drinking and driving. That’s no longer the case. Marijuana and prescription drug use is on the rise like never before.

And finally, this isn’t the class we should be running away from. This should be the class officers are trying to get into.

Almost every crime we deal with revolves around drugs. The word “drug” doesn’t mean illicit drugs anymore. It also means prescription drugs.

A heroin junkie is just as dangerous behind the wheel as the soccer mom who is abusing Xanax or the person who is stoned on marijuana.

Next time you’re stopped at a red light. Take a look around. Chances are they’re probably next to you. Do you really want to share the road with that person?

I don’t either.

Let’s train more DREs to help stop these people before they hurt someone.