The New York Police Department wants more narcotics cops to learn how to field-test the heroin, cocaine and marijuana they seize, Newsday reports. The tests – to confirm a narcotic is what police suspect and enable a case to be brought – have been conducted for years by some officers. Under of a new pilot program, field-testing is being expanded to the precinct Street Narcotics Enforcement units in Brooklyn. Other boroughs will be brought aboard if the pilot is successful.
The police department wants to lighten the workload and overtime costs for technicians at its laboratory. It also hopes the program will help reduce the number of times an officer has to go to court on a case. Drug cases in several cities have been dismissed after it was learned tests were improperly conducted or not conducted at all, with officers caught lying. Last year, Don Bolles, the drummer for punk band The Germs, was arrested in Newport Beach, Ca., for drug possession. A field test said a bottle of soap contained GHB, the date-rape drug. A later test by the police crime lab concluded the evidence in question was soap, not dope, and the charges were dropped.