The primary goal of the South Bend Police Department Drug Recognition Experts is to lower the number of drugged driving incidents. While the arrest and conviction of DUI/OWI drivers can be a result of our activities, we aggressively pursue our goal of fewer DUI/Drug incidents through public awareness and education programs, and updated training within the local law enforcement communities.
The South Bend Police Department currently has two trained and certified Drug Recognition Experts, Corporal Edward Koczan, and Corporal Jason Biggs. These officers are hand selected and approved to attend a specialized DRE training course program that is coordinated at the state level. Both officers are two out of approximately 100 in the state of Indiana certified in drug impairment detection, and two of just 15,000 officers in the nation to have ever received this DRE certification.
What is a DRE? A Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is an officer who has been specially trained to conduct an examination on a person to determine if the person is impaired and, if so, whether the impairment is caused by drug use or by a medical condition. This examination is conducted in a controlled environment utilizing a Standardized and Systematic 12 Step Process.
The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) utilizes a format that has seven categories of drugs. These categories are determined based on the pharmacodynamics of that particular drug category. Pharmacodynamics is the medically known responses of drug use on human physiology. Once the examination is completed the DRE is able to determine which drug category or categories the person has used.
Drug Recognition Experts can be used in a variety of ways, from DWI Enforcement of impaired drivers, for use in detecting drug use in criminal activity, such as narcotics and illegal drug sales, or prescription fraud investigations, to internal investigations.
About the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program
The Drug Evaluation and Classification Program is sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator (DRE) is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) coordinates the International Drug Evaluation and Classification (DEC) Program with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) originated the program in the early 1970s.
Back then LAPD officers noticed that many of the individuals arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) had very low or zero alcohol concentrations. The officers reasonably suspected that the arrestees were under the influence of drugs, but lacked the knowledge and skills to support their suspicions. In response, two LAPD sergeants collaborated with various medical doctors, research psychologists, and other medical professionals to develop a simple, standardized procedure for recognizing drug influence and impairment. Their efforts culminated in the development of a multi-step protocol and the first DRE program. The LAPD formally recognized the DRE program in 1979.
Currently, 41 states, as well as Canada and several other nations, currently support the DEC Program. Hundreds of U.S. Law Enforcement Agencies participate in the DEC Program and there are approximately 6000 active DRE's and 1000 DRE Instructors worldwide.
If asked, both Corporals Koczan and Biggs would tell you that the DRE certification process is the most difficult training they've ever received in their law enforcement careers.
Initially, training as a DRE begins with a two week course, comprised of approximately 80 hours of intensive classroom lectures. During this time lecture topics include:
- Drug Origins (Development)
- Drug Symptomology (Effects)
- Physiology (Anatomy)
These series of classroom lectures are then followed by another 100 hours or more of practical experience. This "hands-on" training allows trainees to practice the drug screening process. Some of this training includes:
- Developing Interview Techniques
- Conducting Sobriety Tests
- Collecting Physical Evidence
The course concludes with a daylong, final exam. This comprehensive exam requires some 20 to 25 hand-written pages and takes the average DRE trainee between 6 to 10 hours to complete.
The training is very intense and requires a level of commitment and dedication un-paralleled in law enforcement. The basic training and certification process will have a DRE involved in over 200 hours of Pre-School and DRE School Classroom Training followed by Field Certification Training, involving examinations and correct drug type detection in persons who are actively under drug influence, and the comprehensive Final Knowledge Examination.
Only after completing the extensive training program can officers be certified by the IACP as Drug Recognition Experts. DRE officers are required to continue their education of drug impairment and conduct the minimum number of drug evaluations during a two year period to stay certified.