The law enforcement community in Des Moines, Iowa is getting some real-world training in their efforts to spot and apprehend individuals who are operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of illegal drugs.
Des Moines police officers are currently taking part in a program that is intended to certify them as Drug Recognition Experts, or DREs. The program involves officer trainees who have varying levels of experience in law enforcement training to spot real citizens who are impaired on real controlled substances and who have been taken off of Des Moines streets and brought in to the training facility.
The training lasts for three consecutive nights and is done with groups of a dozen trainees at a time. The groups of law enforcement officers head out into the city and look for citizens who are actively inebriated from using illegal drugs. The search rarely takes more than a few hours and often times yields more drugged citizens than the training teams can efficiently handle. This is a sobering fact for the officers and administrators involved in the program, but it is also a reflection of how desperately this type of program is needed in the Des Moines area.
The groups of trainees located drugged citizens driving cars, passed out behind the wheel in parked cars, and roaming the streets of Des Moines. Officers approach the individuals and inform them of the situation and the fact that they have been caught under the influence of a controlled substance.
However, in exchange for the citizens’ cooperation in the program, they are offered lesser charges and in some cases have their charges dropped altogether unless they are facing felony charges. The vast majority of the citizens who are approached take the officers up on the offer and each is handled on an individual basis with some being taken to jail after their part in the training and others – those who have had their charges dropped or are not facing a felony – are given a ride home by officers.