HARRISBURG – In Pennsylvania’s latest effort to strengthen highway safety, 13 state troopers and seven municipal police officers have recently been trained as drug recognition experts, State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan announced.
These drug recognition experts, known as DREs, are trained to recognize signs of impairment in drivers who are under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol. The officers are also trained to identify the category of drugs causing the impairment.
“The addition of more specially trained drug recognition experts will enhance efforts to reduce all types of impaired driving on our roadways,” Noonan said. “These troopers and officers are assets to their communities and improve traffic safety through their knowledge of the signs, symptoms and effects of controlled substance use.”
The program also trains officers to recognize whether an individual is suffering from a medical condition rather than drug impairment, he said.
Drug recognition experts are trained to determine if a driver is under the influence of illegal drugs, prescription drugs or any other substance that impairs a motorist’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.
“Motorists should know that they may be incapable of driving safely and can be charged with driving under the influence after ingesting any intoxicating substance, whether the substance is legal or illegal, prescribed by a physician or purchased over the counter,” Noonan said. “Individuals need to be aware of how taking a particular drug will affect their body.”
Pennsylvania’s DRE training program is coordinated by Cpl. David Andrascik of the state police Bureau of Patrol’s Driving Under the Influence/Field Operations Section.
The program, which was developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and approved by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, includes classroom study and hands-on exercises for participating officers. As part of the training, participants are required to conduct evaluations of actual subjects impaired by drugs.
“With the additional officers obtaining certification, the state will have 80 troopers and 29 municipal police officers certified as DREs,” Andrascik said.
Since 2004, Pennsylvania DREs have conducted nearly 6,000 evaluations of people believed to be impaired by substances other than alcohol. Arrests for driving under the influence of drugs have more than doubled statewide during that time frame.
State Police troopers completing training in March were Tpr. Christopher Winesburg, Troop J, Avondale; Tpr. Matthew Klein, Troop K, Media; Tpr. Christopher Graf, Troop L, Jonestown; Tpr. Matthew Lowe, Troop M, Fogelsville; Cpl. Jacob Rothermel, Troop F,Coudersport; Tpr. Christopher Zukowsky, Troop N, Hazleton; Tpr. Joseph Holland, Troop R, Blooming Grove; Tpr. Michael Burns, Troop H, Carlisle; Tpr. William Dubbs, Troop H, Chambersburg; Tpr. Benjamin Frantz, Troop H, Chambersburg; Cpl. Christopher Robbins, Troop D, Kittanning; Tpr. Craig Johnson, Troop D, Butler and Tpr. Andrew Falcon, Troop E, Erie.
Municipal police officers certified as DREs were Patrolman Joshua Bucher, Carlisle Police Department, Cumberland County; Patrolman Kevin Quinter, Wyomissing Police Department, Berks County; Patrolman Matthew Lynch, Chambersburg Police Department, Franklin County; Officer Robert Keen, State College Police Department, Centre County; Officer Jeffrey Bileck, Mount Lebanon Police Department, Allegheny County; Sgt. Craig Scott, Haverford Township Police Department, Montgomery County and Officer Jamie Nolan-Trently, Archbald Township Police Department, Lackawanna County.
For more information about Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.state.pa.us or call 717-783-5556.