Pennsylvania’s drug recognition training program for law enforcement is growing

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania has more officers trained in drug recognition than it’s ever had. About 200 officers have completed the state’s Drug Evaluation and Classification Program, which continues to grow.

“We’re continuing trying to expand the program,” said David Andrascik, the coordinator of Pensylvania’s Drug Evaluation and Classification program.

This year, about 35 drug recognition experts, or DREs, were certified in Pennsylvania. The state troopers and police officers completed the training program with the goal of keeping roads and people safe.

“What the DRE’s able to do is establish a better case or gather more evidence, or we can determine that someone’s not under the influence or they’re suffering from a medical condition, and those charges wouldn’t be filed and the proper steps would be taken, whether they’re transported to the hospital or whatever,” said Andrascik.

Some illegal drugs change.

Some people’s responses to prescription medications differ, so this training aims to ease confusion by looking for specific characteristics in drivers.

“A person’s pupils can be dilated from some type of hallucinate or stimulant or cannabis or someone’s can be restricted from a narcotic,” said Andrascik. “Eye size is a big indicator.”

Even how the eye responds to light can show what category of drug someone has taken.

DREs also look at things like blood pressure, pulse and body temperature.

“We’ve found people that were believed to be impaired that were suffering from a brain aneurysm,” said Andrascik. “We’ve had stroke victims that can appear impaired or intoxicated. We’ve had people with blood sugar issues.”

The Department of Transportation, State Police and the Pennsylvania DUI Association already have three classes planned for next year.

“This is a really good step in adding to the number of officers trained in the state,” said Andrascik.

Among the officers who completed this latest round of training were those from Swatara Township, Hampden Township and Northern Lancaster Regional police departments.

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