HAIRY SITUATION: COPS SLAM NEW TEST FOR DRUGS
Crew-cut cops and balding sergeants are being forced to hand over chest hair, leg hair and in some cases pubic hair to labs conducting NYPD drug tests.
The hair analysis - which began last month in the random testing of its roughly 35,000 cops - can detect cocaine, heroin, marijuana, PCP and Ecstasy in the body for up to 90 days, a big improvement over the three to 30 days that the drugs remain in urine.
But rank-and-file cops say the new process is unprofessional and may lead to skewed results.
"We've had a member whose leg was carved up as they took a sample of leg hair," said Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
The sergeants, joining unions representing police officers and detectives, filed a complaint last Friday with the city Bureau of Collective Bargaining.
Unions leaders cited a recent lawsuit filed by seven Boston cops that raised legitimate questions if the hair analysis was flawed, officials said.
NYPD brass defended the hair testing, adding it was not overly intrusive.
The Police Department conducted 8,055 random drug tests last year - and just two came back positive. In both cases, the cops were fired.
The NYPD medical division now removes enough hair from each cop to fill a 2-inch-by-2-inch envelope. Leg and body hair can be used if a cop is bald or has a shaved head. If a cop doesn't have enough head, leg, chest or arm hair, pubic hair is used. In such cases, the cops clip their own hair.
The NYPD first used hair tests in 1995 in cases where drug use was suspected. Hair tests were added for probationary officers in 1996. Last month, they were used in the random drug screening of all cops.
James Hanley, the city labor relations commissioner, said the NYPD discussed the new tests with police unions. "It's been tested by the courts and we have the right to do it."