Drug Recognition Expert (DRE)
The Orchard Park Police Department currently has one Drug Recognition Expert in the department. This officer is on call 24 hours a day/365 days a year for call-outs in our department, as well as for surrounding agencies. The DRE program is funded by the Governor’s Traffic and Safety Committee, as well as STOP-DWI Program. To be considered for DRE training, the applicant must have a minimum of two years of law enforcement service with advanced training in roadside impaired driving enforcement and a solid experience level in making DWI arrests. The officer has to go through an application process including an interview and proficiency testing to qualify for the training program.
A DRE is specially trained in recognizing specific symptoms and behaviors that are caused by drugs. The officer takes 80+ hours of classroom instruction, 40+ hours of field certification training, several written examinations, and conducts at least twelve evaluations which the results must be supported by toxicology before receiving the certification.
A DRE is requested by a police officer when impairment is evident and alcohol is not suspected or the impairment is inconsistent with the known alcohol level. The DRE gathers more evidence after the arrest to further support signs of impairment by drugs, deeming it to be a medical issue, or finding no impairment.
Through the DRE training, law enforcement has the means to identify drug-impaired drivers, narrow down the classification of drugs taken, collect evidence to prosecute them, and apply this training to other areas of police work.
As of 12/31/2021, there were 8,115 DREs in the United States, which is less than 1% of police officers. In New York State there were 345 DRE officers, which is less than 0.5% of police officers in the state. New York State DREs conducted 2,723 evaluations. Of those 2,723 evaluations, only 209 (7.7%) were found to have no impairment, and 31 cases were caused by medical condition impairment. It should be noted that some evaluations are done regardless of impairment suspicion in situations such as motor vehicle accidents resulting in severe injury or death.