The Comprehensive Police Officers Drug Testing Guide

The Comprehensive Police Officers Drug Testing Guide


A career in law enforcement may be both demanding and frustrating. Police, firefighters, and other emergency responders frequently observe and experience catastrophic events, life-or-death situations, loss and reunification, anger and reconciliation, and a wide range of human experiences and emotions.

While these capable individuals are well-trained to respond to emergency circumstances, these encounters can be emotionally and physically draining over time. Drug or alcohol abuse can sometimes provide a reprieve from the strains of police jobs.

However, police officers and other emergency responders, like any other citizen, may encounter addiction, substance dependency, and the effects of poor coping habits.

After all, addiction has no bounds. However, when it comes to police officers, the fear of being discovered or facing the stigma of addiction can be overwhelming.

Table of contents 

Do police officers get drug tested?

Yes, police officers are drug tested. Every individual who holds public responsibility based jobs or safety sensitive positions mandatorily get drug tested. The safety of the police officer and citizens they protect depend on it. 

Police Officers have a significant responsibility over protection of life, property and civil liberties in a society. As such it become quintessential for the police department to be drug-free.

How Do Police Departments Test for Drugs?

Police officer drug testing is done in the same way as corporate drug testing

  1. Pre-employment drug testing must be announced in the same material that describes the officer's responsibilities. When you receive a job offer, you should schedule a drug test appointment.

The results of a drug test determine one's employability. To become a police officer, applicants must have a negative test result.

Urine samples are frequently taken in the same area where the candidate is applying for the job. 

  1. For the initial test, an FDA-approved immunoassay will be employed. This is often a urine drug test cup that may detect up to 12 different substances of abuse.
  2. The material will be retested using GC/MS techniques if the preliminary result is positive.
  3. After factoring in revealed medical grounds for using pharmaceuticals, a Medical Analyze Officer (MRO) will review test findings and determine if they are positive or negative. This involves a discussion of the test results with the applicant, as well as the option to have the results verified at a different facility.
  4. An employment application will be rejected if a positive test result is confirmed.
  5. The findings of the tests are maintained in the patient's private and confidential medical file. Rejected applicants' records will be kept for five years, while employed employees' data will be held ten years after leaving their post.
  6. Police personnel may be subjected to periodic, random, and post-accident drug tests in addition to the original pre-employment drug test and background check. Some police departments may only conduct drug tests every two years, putting the force at risk of drug usage and mishaps.
  7. Urine drug test cups and rapid saliva test kits are the most regularly ordered drug tests for cops. Rapid urine drug test cups are a cost-effective approach for law enforcement agencies to maintain the zero-tolerance policy.
  8. Mouth swab drug testing can detect the use of six commonly misused substances nearly quickly after abuse in circumstances where recent drug abuse is suspected.

Why are Police Officers 3 times more likely to suffer from addiction compared to other professions?

Police officers and other law enforcement officials deal with high-stress work conditions, emergency situations, and rigorous work hours and schedules that can interfere with family and leisure time.

In addition, they deal with crises on a daily basis, often at significant personal risk. As a result, substance abuse may become a coping or unwinding mechanism.

One out of every four cops has an alcohol or drug problem. While the overall population's rate of substance abuse is roughly 10%, it can range from 20% to 30% among police officers.

Police personnel frequently find themselves in tumultuous situations. They are continually exposed to violence, distress, and mortality due to disorderly conduct, deadly vehicle accidents, and shootings.

Their routines might be exhausting as well. For example, officers are frequently required to work rotational and overtime shifts, prevents him from spending enough time with his families or getting enough sleep.

A variety of factors causes stress, and it is conducive to substance usage. This anxiousness can have a physical and mental toll, leading to drug and alcohol addiction in certain officers. Stress is also induced by negative publicity, budget cuts, and layoffs.

Workplace Hazards

Searches are conducted, parking meters are checked, traffic tickets are issued, and investigations are conducted by police personnel. Arrests, drug raids, and hostage situations are among the more risky aspects of the work.

Working Hours

Police officers operate in shifts that rotate. They work numerous 10- to 12-hour shifts in a row, with several days off in between. These schedules don't leave much time for rest during the day, leading to exhaustion and a loss of critical thinking abilities. In addition, fatigue is linked to a variety of health issues, including anxiety and despair.

Sleep deprivation caused by rotating shifts might influence performance just as much as excessive alcohol usage. In addition, fatigue can affect speech, hand-eye coordination, and reaction speeds in the same way as drinking.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Unsettling situations, like inspecting a bloody crime scene, can have a negative impact on an officer's mental health. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health illness that develops after a stressful experience.

Military people are frequently linked to the illness. It can, however, impair cops in the aftermath of fatal shootings, vehicle accidents, or other horrific incidents.

Criticism from the public

Following an upsurge of civilian gunshot deaths in recent years, police have increased scrutiny from the general population. These deadly clashes have sparked widespread media coverage and public outrage.

Many officers believe that they are undervalued. They hear citizen criticism, read it in the newspapers, and see it on the evening news. This mockery has added to my anxiety leasing to drug abuse.

Drugs that banned you from being a Police Officer?

Being a cop entails a great deal of responsibility. When a law enforcement organization hires a new officer, the agency must ensure that this individual can handle the responsibilities that come with the position.

One way the hiring agency does this is by looking at the prospective hire's previous conduct. This person may not be the best prospect for being employed as a new police officer if he or she have a history of making poor life choices.

As a result, the background check is an essential part of the whole police hiring procedure. Remember, even if you  clear the written test with flying colors.

You are in excellent physical condition to perform admirably on the physical ability test; your previous or current behavior could be an impediment to your dream employment as a police officer.

The Use of Drugs

Each agency has its drug policy, including how long the drugs were used, the sort of drugs used, and the number of drugs used. Any current drug misuse will automatically disqualify you.

Some agencies would not disqualify applicants for previous MMJ use if it occurred more than a few years ago. However, most agencies refuse to hire people who have taken drugs, including cocaine, hallucinogens, current designer drugs, 6-MAM, and other similar substances.

In most circumstances, the condition is that the candidate has not used drugs in the last two or three years, and prior drug misuse may be a disqualifier in most areas. For some experimental purposes, some departments do not dismiss applications. However, that use is limited to specific drugs and a specific period in that person's past.


Any history of illegal opium, 6-MAM, and its derivatives and synthetics, including morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, methadone, oxycodone, fentanyl, or other major drugs of abuse, including PCP, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, etc.

Never engage in the manufacture, sale, or trafficking of any controlled substance, or engage in fraudulent prescription pharmaceutical procurement.

Never deliver any regulated or illicit substance besides MMJ.

Most common drug testing kits used by the Police Department

5 Panel Drug Test Kits

The five-panel device (AMP) Amphetamine drug test, (COC) Cocaine drug test, (MET) Methamphetamine drug test, (MOR) Morphine drug test, and (THC) MMJ drug test is based on the principle of specific immunochemical reactions between antibodies and antigens to analyze specific compounds in human urine specimens.

Thus, the assay is based on a competition for binding antibodies between the drug conjugate and any free drug present in the analyzed urine sample.

Refer to the following website to learn how to perform a 5-panel drug test:

Click Here to View.

12 Panel Drug Test Kits

The 12-panel multi-drug transparent cup is simple to use, convenient, and accurate up to 99% of the time. A one-step, completely integrated, and self-contained screening cup is included in the test cup. The cup has received FDA approval (510) K and is CLIA-free.

The 12 panels CLIA Waived clear cup tests for the presence of MMJ, cocaine, morphine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, ecstasy, methadone, oxycodone, phencyclidine, tricyclic, and three adulterants (creatinine, oxidants, specific gravity) in human urine.

Refer to the following website to learn how to perform a 12-panel drug test:

Click Here to View.

What happens if a Police Officers fails a drug test?

Officers involved in cases where force is used to control a perpetrator may be compelled to take a drug test after the incident. This test is perform to confirm that the officer in question was in complete control of their actions and was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Counseling sessions and future drug testing may be required if an officer tests positive for drugs or alcohol. In addition, treatment programs are enforced as part of an officer's overall performance evaluation.

The Bottom Line

Establishing a drug-free workplace is an important part of the Police Bureau's service . Members who use drugs or alcohol without permission endanger themselves, their coworkers, and the safety, well-being, and trust of the citizens they serve.

As a result, members must be held to a level that ensures citizens and other employees that individuals aren’t under the influence of these substances while on the job. This policy will apply to all sworn and non-sworn members of the Police Bureau.

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