Oklahoma, you’re doing fine! The 19th Annual Training Conference on Drugs, Alcohol and Impaired Driving, co-hosted by the Oklahoma Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) and Highway Safety Office in Oklahoma City, August 5-7, 2013, was a huge success, judging by critiques and comments during and after the event. The conference drew close to 700 attendees representing law enforcement, toxicology, prosecution, health professionals and other stakeholders in impaired driving enforcement initiatives.
“Saving Lives, One Evaluation at a Time”—this year’s theme—was a reference to the process used by drug recognition experts (DRE) when assessing a driver suspected of impairment. Many DREs attend the conference to fulfill their requirements for recertification.
IACP President Craig Steckler and Oklahoma Highway Patrol’s Colonel Kerry Pettingill were among the welcome speakers during the opening ceremony. President Steckler reaffirmed the IACP’s commitment to the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) and other training programs such as the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE). “The nation has done an excellent job of addressing drunk driving over the past decade,” he acknowledged, “yet there are still too many drug-impaired drivers that go undetected.” Colonel Pettingill recognized the rigorous training that DREs must complete, saying “Be proud of what you do to achieve certification. We need more DREs.”
Both President Steckler’s and Colonel Pettingill’s remarks echoed similar statements in a recent Seattle Times article that underscored a need for more officers to be trained as DREs due to the growing trend of changed marijuana laws around the country—to date, 20 states and D.C. have enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana.
While most of the presentations addressed impairment and DUI—such as prescription drug abuse, excited delirium, prosecuting DRE cases, toxicology reports and investigations, and effective training—some also examined the serious issue of safety and wellness for the officer and families. A workshop featured “A Cop’s Life: How to Understand It,” and the closing general session emphasized how critical to survival are the first eight seconds in an officer’s encounter with a suspect.
The IACP DRE Section wishes to extend its appreciation to our Oklahoma colleagues, particularly to Jim Maisano and his planning committee, for their hard work and hospitality during this year’s conference.