Marquette County gets new Drug Recognition Expert

Published: Mar. 11, 2018 at 9:46 PM EDT
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Marquette County Police have another tool available to combat impaired driving.

A Sheriff's Deputy completed Advanced Drug Recognition Training in March, and is now on duty in Marquette County.

A Drug Recognition Expert is used to determine if an impaired driver may be under the influence of illicit or legal drugs.

This position is new to the Marquette County Sheriff's Office, and along with the D.R.E.'s in Chocolay Township and the City of Marquette, they are used to assist other officers in their investigations.

"They have someone that they suspect under the influence of drugs, at that point they would call me in and I would do my own evaluations on the subject to determine what class of drugs they're on," Marquette County Deputy Sheriff and Drug Recognition Expert Aaron Griffin said.

"A lot of times the road officer who doesn't have advanced training cannot assess accurately what this person could be on, what they're under the influence of, so they need someone to come along, like Deputy Griffin who has advanced training and expertise to narrow down what these people are under the influence of," Marquette County Sheriff's Office Road Patrol Sergeant Richard Aboussleman said.

Deputy Griffin has been with the Marquette County Sheriff's Office for three years now, and only started his new role in early March.

D.R.E.'s are trained to identify which of the seven illicit drug categories an individual is influenced under, or if their behavior is due to a medical condition, using a combination of advanced field sobriety tests, blood pressure and temperature measurements.

They in turn are used as expert witnesses in court to support the case against an impaired driver.

"It seems like everybody is taking some sort of prescription medication or a lot of the medical marijuana users are thinking they can operate under the influence of marijuana because they have a medical marijuana card, which simply isn't the case," Griffin said.

More than 40 officers in Michigan were allowed to qualify for the most recent certification based on their arrest records, and only 22 passed the intensive three week course.