Three ACT Policing members resigned while being investigated by Professional Standards after returning positive drug tests for cocaine, MDMA, ketamine and illegal steroids.
One sworn member of ACT Policing returned a positive result for cocaine and benzoylecgonine – a metabolite of cocaine – while a second sworn member tested positive for Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators – illegal performance enhancers.
The third member, an unsworn employee, tested positive for ketamine, MDMA, MDA, cocaine and benzoylecgonine.
President of the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA) Alex Caruana said while the union supports keeping their members safe by removing officers under the influence of drugs, more education and awareness was needed to stop officers turning towards substance abuse in the first place.
“There is a bit of a culture where if I put my hand up and say if I have a mental health issue or an alcohol addiction that the AFP might change my duty … so members are reluctant to put their hand up because of the ramifications, not because they do not want the help or that the help is not there,” he said.
“We are supportive of the process that currently stands because we think it is fair but what we would also be supportive of is more of an education and awareness in terms of, if you are having these feelings and feel like you need to self medicate, this is what we have to offer to help you.
“Nobody wants to work with an inebriated partner because its dangerous for them and it is dangerous for the community.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman confirmed that 342 random mandatory drug tests were conducted on ACT Policing employees, while 22 mandatory drug tests were conducted on employees as a result of Professional Standards investigations or inquiries.
“Depending on the sample taken, the period of time [a drug was taken] can range from a few days to a few months,” Mr Gentleman said in a reply to a question on notice.
“Also, due to the samples requiring processing in a laboratory, it can take between two to five days for the result to be provided to Professional Standards. The result is then verified by the [Australian Federal Police] Medical Review Officer before a confirmed positive result is known.
“Therefore, if a confirmed positive result is obtained, the exact time of prohibited drug or pharmaceutical consumption, and whether it was during work hours, is not able to be established.”
Professional Standards did not respond to any critical incidents in the ACT between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020 that required a drug and alcohol response.
Employees who test positive to a drug test are suspended without pay and are subject to a serious misconduct investigation in most circumstances.