When on drugs, ‘the eyes tell all’
Police officers learn to spot signs of alcohol and drug abuse.
View attachment 14491 (Photo caption) Glendale Police officer Joe Allen holds a pupilometer next to officer Craig Tweedy during seminar on how to determine whether someone is under the influence of drugs, at the police station in Glendale on Wednesday. (Raul Roa/News-Press)
Glendale Police Officer Craig Tweedy flashed a pen-sized light into the eyes of fellow officers, testing several techniques Wednesday used to determine whether they were under the influence of drugs.
The officers passed the physical exams with flying colors while also getting a lesson on properly administering the seven-step drug abuse recognition process.
The officers check the way a person’s eyes move vertically and horizontally, and if their eyes can converge to the center with ease. They check a person’s pulse, pupil size and reaction to light, and have them perform the Romberg Stand, which examines a person’s internal clock.
“The eyes tell all,” said Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz, who trained the officers.
After learning the new techniques, he told the officers that their awareness of possible drug users would increase.
“You are going to make more eye contact,” Lorenz said.
The seven-step process checks for use of stimulants, hallucinogens, opiates, marijuana, alcohol, depressants, inhalants and dissociative anesthetics, such as PCP.
Wednesday’s training kicked off a three-day seminar aimed at training officers on recognizing drug abuse and evaluating drunk drivers.
Glendale Police Department established its Drug Abuse Recognition program in 1988.
Because California is one of six U.S. states that has a penal code for being under the influence of a controlled substance, Lorenz said it is critical that officers be trained on the issue.
Having an increased knowledge of drugs and their effect on people will allow officers to better enforce laws, he said.
The program has been used to train officers from other police departments, including Burbank, Pasadena and Santa Monica.
The seminar culminates with the officers taking a final exam, which they must score higher than 80% on to become certified.
Don MacNeil, a retired Glendale police lieutenant and narcotics expert, explained to the officers how the body reacts to drugs.
Oxycontin, a painkiller, can reach the brain the fastest, giving the user an instant high, he said.
Smoking a drug is the fastest way to get high, he said. The second quickest way is injecting the drug.
“Most drugs of abuse are used by smoking,” MacNeil said.
Heroin is the most used drug in Los Angeles County, Lorenz told officers. Certain prescription pills that are opiates are also gaining popularity among drug users.
A bottle of certain prescription pills, he said, “might as well be 40 bags or balloons of heroin.”
Published: Last Updated Wednesday, April 28, 2010 10:56 PM PDT
By Veronica Rocha