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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/25/2005 11:37:03 AM EDT
Officers Sue Over Use of Hair Drug Tests

DENISE LAVOIE
Associated Press


BOSTON (AP) -- The seven police officers swore they didn't use cocaine, yet their hair tested positive for the drug. The officers - all of them black - were promptly fired or suspended.

''I was in complete and utter shock,'' said Officer Shawn Noel Harris. ''I know that I never used drugs a day in my life.''

The Boston officers are now suing the police department, claiming the mandatory drug test is unreliable and racially biased. They say hair testing is unfair because drug compounds show up more readily in dark hair than light hair.

Their civil rights lawsuit is one of many legal challenges against hair drug tests, which are used by companies and police departments nationwide. Employers like the test because it can detect drugs up to three months after use; urine tests go back only a few days and can be easily altered.

But studies have found dark-haired people are more likely to test positive for drugs because they have higher levels of melanin, which allows drug compounds to bind more easily to their hair.

The Boston lawsuit says the officers may have had some kind of environmental exposure to cocaine, but that they didn't use the drug themselves. The former officers are seeking reinstatement to their jobs, back pay, and unspecified damages.

Six of the seven former officers had a second hair test conducted that came back negative within days of the positive result. Harris had another hair test, a urine test and a blood test. All were analyzed by a different laboratory and all came back negative.

''It was humiliating,'' he said. ''People who I once considered friends or comrades in arms treated me differently. They looked at me differently.''

Police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole said the department believes the hair testing policy is sound.

''Our department's lawyers have certainly studied this and are prepared to go forward and defend the existing policy,'' O'Toole said. ''To date, nobody has presented anything that's caused us to believe that we should abandon our current policy.''

Boston police began testing hair in 1999, replacing urine tests. Their testing company, Psychemedics Corp., is the largest provider of hair testing for drug use, with clients including Fortune 500 companies and police departments in Chicago and Los Angeles.

William Thistle, Psychemedic's senior vice president and general counsel, said the company's tests are well-supported and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Each hair sample is thoroughly washed and soaked for an extensive period of time to remove any contaminants. If an initial test comes back positive, the sample is tested again, Thistle said.

''The fact is that the test is extremely reliable,'' he said.

But critics say it's far from perfect. Police are especially vulnerable because they can be exposed to drug residue on the job, they say.

Fort Wayne, Ind., narcotics detective Timothy Bobay tested positive for cocaine after a hair sample was taken from his forearm during a random screening last year.

The police chief moved to fire him, but Bobay vehemently denied using cocaine. He argued the positive test came from exposure to cocaine dust on the job three weeks earlier.

Bobay, who is white and has dark hair, had a hair sample taken from his head tested by a different laboratory and he also had a urine test. Both came back negative.

The petition to fire him was withdrawn after Psychemedics said it was unable to rule out environmental exposure to cocaine as the reason for his positive test
, said Bobay's lawyer, Patrick Arata.

Under the substance abuse policy in Boston, officers who test positive for drug use are either fired or suspended for 45 days without pay and required to undergo rehab. Six of the seven police officers refused to sign rehabilitation agreements. The seventh officer signed the agreement so he could keep his job, but was later fired after testing positive in another hair test.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger, director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, said he is more supportive of hair testing than he was five or 10 years ago because laboratory procedures have improved.

But the American Civil Liberties Union says the science is still questionable and discriminatory.

''Here you have police officers on the front line whose reputations have been horribly tarnished, if not destroyed, and who are out of a job because of a drug test that may have identified them for being guilty of nothing more than the color of their skin,'' said ACLU attorney Allen Hopper.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:41:04 AM EDT
'Racial profiling is what groups use to deflect attention when they have a problem they don't want to admit to or deal with', paraphrasing from Jim Quinn.

Sort of like how that school district said that math was racist because more black people fail math then white people.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:43:57 AM EDT
Uh, did I read that correctly? They're not disputing the RESULTS of the test (which determined they were using drugs) just that the test was more likely to work on them for having dark hair??? WTF?
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:44:08 AM EDT
other substances show up as cocaine; i.e. sudafed
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:45:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jmzd4:
other substances show up as cocaine; i.e. sudafed



Doesn't a blood test differentiate between that stuff?

I can't remember. If it does, then submit to a blood test to show they are clean and get rehired.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:48:08 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/25/2005 11:48:27 AM EDT by afman91201]
So how did they get cocaine in their hair on their head? What did they swim in that shit?
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:51:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By purplecheese:

Originally Posted By jmzd4:
other substances show up as cocaine; i.e. sudafed



Doesn't a blood test differentiate between that stuff?

I can't remember. If it does, then submit to a blood test to show they are clean and get rehired.



The only kind of test not subject to false results due to cross-binding is gas chromatography. That costs hundreds of dollars, and is usually used only to deal with challenges to positive results on initial screenings.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:52:14 AM EDT
If retests did indeed come up negative, they should get their jobs back.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:52:39 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/25/2005 11:52:47 AM EDT by IAMLEGEND]
Life is "racist".
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:53:16 AM EDT
Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!!

I'm so tired of people using race as a crutch to cover poor performance, lack of ability, or to cover doing something they know is wrong.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:54:26 AM EDT


God is a racist.


Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:55:37 AM EDT
City of Boston has another case involving race in public services? Imagine that......
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:58:05 AM EDT
Drug tests cannot lie.

They can be wrong though.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 11:58:36 AM EDT
Drug testing is a pain in the ass!



Well that's what my boss said he was doing.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 12:01:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By California_Kid:

Originally Posted By purplecheese:

Originally Posted By jmzd4:
other substances show up as cocaine; i.e. sudafed



Doesn't a blood test differentiate between that stuff?

I can't remember. If it does, then submit to a blood test to show they are clean and get rehired.



The only kind of test not subject to false results due to cross-binding is gas chromatography. That costs hundreds of dollars, and is usually used only to deal with challenges to positive results on initial screenings.



Thanks for clarifying that.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 12:03:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 1Andy2:
Uh, did I read that correctly? They're not disputing the RESULTS of the test (which determined they were using drugs came in contact with drugs) just that the test was more likely to work on them for having dark hair??? WTF?



They are saying that anyone who spends any time in areas that may contain drugs or drug contaminated items will absorb some trace of it. People with dark hair will record the contact longer than others. Don't know if that is true but it is possible to find traces of drugs in lots of people who never took them directly.

Handle any money at all?
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 12:07:23 PM EDT
Only when done to non whites.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 12:19:58 PM EDT
Its the Man throwing cocaine in their hair!

The Man is always tryin' to put a brother down.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 2:52:40 PM EDT
A large part of my job involes drug testing.
Sudafed will show up as amphetmines not coke.
I have been involved with drug testing for about 13 years and have seen the false positive rate decline as the tests improve.
As far as the testing being "racist" thats

Link Posted: 8/25/2005 4:13:06 PM EDT
If you eat a bunch of poppy seeds (poppy seed cake/muffin) it will show up as opiates on a drug test.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 9:10:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By snarfbatt:
A large part of my job involes drug testing.
Sudafed will show up as amphetmines not coke.
I have been involved with drug testing for about 13 years and have seen the false positive rate decline as the tests improve.
As far as the testing being "racist" thats




It is primarily directed against marijuana users who would be the people least likely to have problems that employers should be worried about. Marijuana lasts longer in the system.

And, it is a well-known scam originally orchestrated by the former head of the DEA and the former hed of NIDA who got a great idea about how to get rich by having their Washington buddies pass laws to encourage drug testing even when there is little, if any, evidence that it is even worth the cost.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 9:11:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By purplecheese:

Originally Posted By jmzd4:
other substances show up as cocaine; i.e. sudafed



Doesn't a blood test differentiate between that stuff?

I can't remember. If it does, then submit to a blood test to show they are clean and get rehired.



Cocaine is usually gone from a blood test in a matter of hours or days. The reason they test hair is because (theoretically) it shows what you were doing a year ago. Of course, it is not your employer's business what you were doing a year ago, so . . .
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 9:13:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By afman91201:
So how did they get cocaine in their hair on their head? What did they swim in that shit?



If they had ingested cocaine, the residue of it could be found in their hair. Likewise, if they had other contact with cocaine -- such as perhaps the illegal drugs that are found on about eighty percent of US currency.

Beyond that, there is some research that shows that black people are more likely to get false positives for cocaine on hair tests. It seems to be a peculiarity of their hair.
Link Posted: 8/25/2005 9:41:00 PM EDT
Come on guys, you are quick to jump on the anti-racism bandwagon, and likewise ignore the scientific evidence pointing to the theory that these men DID NOT USE COCAINE!!!! Obviously their jobs would expose them to the drug, probably more than the rest of us are exposed to in the course of a normal day at work. The evidence points to dark hair being more conductive to showing a drugs presence, and there arent too many naturaly blond haired african americans are there.... Its not the test was designed to be racist, its just how the cards land. A dark haired white person would also be subject to the same super sensitivity. Seems to me if these guys voluntarily took additional hair, urine, and blood tests which came up negative, this shouldnt even be an issue. IMHO this guilty until proven innocent crap(drug testing) must be put to a stop. If most people really understood the utter uselessness of pre-employment urine testing it would go up in smoke, costing those invested in this field a shitton of 'hard earned' money. It boild down to this, a detection times in urine for crack/cocain/heroin/meth use is 3-7 days, for marijuana it is significantly longer, up to a month or more. Many employers do not understand this, and are suprised at the number of new hires who have the work ethic of a crackhead, especially considering that said employee passed a piss test before hiring.... FWIW would you rather hire someone who resisted the urge to smoke crack for 3 whole days before their pee pee test or a pothead?
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 4:06:12 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jmzd4:
other substances show up as cocaine; i.e. sudafed



Got anything to substantiate that claim? I've never even heard that before and I have arrested hundreds of people for under the ingfluence and got convictions based on their blood tests. You would think if sudaphed causes a positive test for cocaine the defense would bring that up at trial...?
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 4:07:18 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Admiral_Crunch:
If retests did indeed come up negative, they should get their jobs back.



Cocaine only stays in the blood about 3 days.

A guy who used on Friday can test clean on tuesday.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:14:00 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DuBri:
.. FWIW would you rather hire someone who resisted the urge to smoke crack for 3 whole days before their pee pee test or a pothead?



How about neither. It's real simple most workplaces are very up front about their policy on drugs
if you want to do drugs don't work at those places.

It's not discrimination to exclude those who participate in illegal activities.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:24:23 AM EDT
it's all Bush's fault
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:33:18 AM EDT
I thought they had lower detection limits on drug tests

so they don't get positives on people with "casual"

contact with drugs.



+ .000002 on Bush
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:34:02 AM EDT
They always play the race card....
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:36:10 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Hmanjr:
Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!!

I'm so tired of people using race as a crutch to cover poor performance, lack of ability, or to cover doing something they know is wrong.



If the majority of the positives end up being a minority, of course it's racist!
If the majority of prisoners are a minoroty.....you get the idea.

One of my favorite sayings:"Stop running around your cage denying you're a squirrel".
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:37:10 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:44:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SHIPSNIPE1:

Originally Posted By DuBri:
.. FWIW would you rather hire someone who resisted the urge to smoke crack for 3 whole days before their pee pee test or a pothead?



How about neither. It's real simple most workplaces are very up front about their policy on drugs
if you want to do drugs don't work at those places.

It's not discrimination to exclude those who participate in illegal activities.



Not according to the American Medical Association. They called drug testing "chemical McCarthyism". Why does it make any real sense to the employer to tell their employees that they are concerned about someone who smoked a joint a week ago, while they aren't concerned about the guy who drank three six packs last weekend?
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:45:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By liquidsunshine:
I thought they had lower detection limits on drug tests

so they don't get positives on people with "casual"

contact with drugs.



+ .000002 on Bush



Some evidence shows that black people's hair often tests positive without any exposure to cocaine.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:55:03 AM EDT

Originally Posted By HELOBRAVO:

Originally Posted By Hmanjr:
Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!! Racists!!!

I'm so tired of people using race as a crutch to cover poor performance, lack of ability, or to cover doing something they know is wrong.



If the majority of the positives end up being a minority, of course it's racist!
If the majority of prisoners are a minoroty.....you get the idea.

One of my favorite sayings:"Stop running around your cage denying you're a squirrel".



The original purpose of the drug laws was to discriminate against minorities. The first Federal law against opium outlawed possession by Chinese but not by whites.

Cocaine was outlawed largely because of fears that superhuman Negro Cocaine Fiends would go on a violent rampage and rape white women and shoot white men. It was believed that cocaine made them better marksmen and impervious to bullets. Police departments across the nation switched to larger caliber pistols because of fear of the Negro Cocaine Fiends.

Marijuana was outlawed for two reasons. In the southwest, it was outlawed because "All Mexicans are crazy and marijuana is what makes them crazy." (Actual quote from the Texas state legislature) In the northeast, it was outlawed because of the fear that heroin addiction would lead to the use of marijuana -- exactly the opposite of the modern myth.

If you examine the Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics you will find that blacks and whites get comparatively equal treatment except in the area of drugs. Blacks are about 25 percent more likely to get a prison sentence for drug offenses than whites, and more likely to get a longer prison sentence, even when the offenses are equal. A few years ago, the stats showed that over 90 percent of the people sentenced to mandatory minimum sentences for drugs were black. To fix the problem, the government stopped publishing those stats.

A survey a few years ago showed that in Wisconsin (IIRC), blacks account for about 2 percent of the population but about 44 percent of the people in prison for drugs. That is despite the fact that other surveys show the rates of use by blacks and whites is about equal.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 5:56:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Paul:
Science is racist?

I thought white people could have dark hair too?

[shrug]



There is scientific evidence to show that the hair of some black people will test positive for cocaine even without any exposure to cocaine. It is a peculiarity of their hair, and a failure of the test.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 6:06:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By purplecheese:

Originally Posted By jmzd4:
other substances show up as cocaine; i.e. sudafed



Doesn't a blood test differentiate between that stuff?

I can't remember. If it does, then submit to a blood test to show they are clean and get rehired.



Cocaine is usually gone from a blood test in a matter of hours or days. The reason they test hair is because (theoretically) it shows what you were doing a year ago. Of course, it is not your employer's business what you were doing a year ago, so . . .



Not my hair. It is only good for about 2 weeks......Unless they want to trim my pubes.....



As for cocaine dust getting in their hair, I can actually believe that. I have had experience with micropulverized CS powder (Used to run the gas chamber for my unit as NBC, NCO) and know how fine particles can get in the air. Their claim seems to be scientifically valid but not as racism, but being against all dark haired people. Not just blacks, but asians, hispanics, eastern europeans etc...
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 6:13:47 AM EDT

Originally Posted By PsyWarrior:
Not my hair. It is only good for about 2 weeks......Unless they want to trim my pubes.....



Don't be surprised if they ask you to drop your drawers.



As for cocaine dust getting in their hair, I can actually believe that. I have had experience with micropulverized CS powder (Used to run the gas chamber for my unit as NBC, NCO) and know how fine particles can get in the air. Their claim seems to be scientifically valid but not as racism, but being against all dark haired people. Not just blacks, but asians, hispanics, eastern europeans etc...



There is evidence to show that the tests have a particular fault with the hair of black people, as opposed to any other race. Blacks will get false positives more than other people with black hair.
Link Posted: 8/26/2005 8:36:29 AM EDT
EVERYTHING IS RACIST IF A BLACK GUY HAS A GRIPE.

Lock your keys in your car? Racist car.

Need to study algebra? Racist math.

Trip on the sidewalk? Racist concrete.
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