Columbus To Increase Drug Testing For Top-Level Police, Fire Department Employees

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UPDATED: Wednesday August 6, 2014 5:48 PM

10 Investigates has found the use of illegal drugs is relatively rare among city employees, but it does happen.   Records 10TV obtained show random drug testing is catching the use of marijuana and cocaine.

Now, the city plans to more frequently test the people calling the shots at its police and fire departments. 

On the streets of Columbus, the war on drugs never ends and neither does the effort to keep city employees off of them. 

Police union president Jason Pappas says drugs are not a problem in his department.  He says Columbus officers are clean and they have to be.  "If I am an officer out on the street, and I need you as back up, there is no way I can have you be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and be able to have you back me up.” Pappas explains.

A 10TV review of random drug test records shows that's mostly true. Only one positive test result was found in the past several years was for marijuana.

Records for Columbus firefighters show a few more positive results.  10TV found four firefighters tested positive for a total of seven times over five years for marijuana and cocaine.

The city has used drug tests to test officers and firefighters for years. The top brass have also been included in that testing. But now, a new procedure means chiefs and their assistant chiefs will get tested more often.

Deputy Safety Director Dan Giangardella says the city simply wants to send a message: to demonstrate leadership.  “(So) they're willing to be every part of that random testing out there; nothing more than that.”

Pappas agrees.  He says the rank and file want to know they’re being subjected to things that management is being subjected to.

10 Investigates also found in the past few years, there were two positive results at the city's Recreation & Parks Department.  Employees there only face random testing if they operate commercial vehicles.  The department sent 10TV a statement saying it is disappointing to have any positive drug tests.

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