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Coal City police to undergo random drug testing

Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 8:25 p.m. CDT

COAL CITY – Police officers in Coal City will submit to random drug and alcohol testing while on the job, and face repercussions if they test positive for certain substances.

This is a first for the department, which has not required employee drug tests in the past. The testing will begin once the Coal City Village Board adopts the official policy, likely at its next village board meeting in August.

The new policy was established in the officer’s union contract through the Metropolitan Alliance of Police. During the collective bargaining process, the officers agreed to undergo random drug tests at the request of the village.

That contract was ratified in April, according to MAP Chapter 186 President and Coal City police officer Jason Clark.

“The village pretty much conceded to everything we asked for in the collective bargaining agreement as long as they got some sort of drug testing policy in there,” Clark said Tuesday.

“The officers have nothing to hide. If they want to test us, go ahead, we have nothing to hide,” he said.

Clark assured the department has had no issues with drug use in the past and said the adoption of drug testing policies “seems to be a trend” among police departments.

The collective bargaining agreement allows the village to test two officers a month. An officer cannot be tested more than twice in 12 months or before all other officers have been tested two times.

Officers face termination if they test positive for any illicit substances. The tests also will register legally prescribed drugs and alcohol, but punishment varies for those substances based on several factors.

Ultimately, the punishment of an officer falls to the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.

Tests will be administered by Mid-West Truckers Association, an agency the village has used to test certain village employees who have commercial drivers licenses and operate maintenance equipment on the job.

“Mid-West has been testing the public works employees for quite some time,” Village Administrator Matt Fritz said at the village board meeting Monday, where the policy was supposed to be voted upon.

The board agreed to wait until next month before passing the policy to give the union, village trustees and village officials more time to review the village’s procedure.

“I’m going to ask we table this tonight and bring it back next meeting just so that everybody is clear. They can look through this and get their questions answered,” Village President Neal Nelson said.

Clark said he would like more time to review village’s proposed procedure, as well, and plans to meet with Fritz to ensure the village’s policy matches what is written in the collective bargaining agreement.

He anticipates the policy will be passed and officers will begin testing by August.

Chief Tom Best was absent from the board meeting Monday and was unable to be reached Tuesday for comment.

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