A normative analysis of police drug abuse testing policy: police perceptions and policy reform strategies
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Type of Workxiii, 396 leaves
DepartmentUniversity of Baltimore. Yale Gordon College of Public Affairs
ProgramUniversity of Baltimore. Doctor of Public Administration
RightsThis item may be protected under Title 17 of the U.S. Copyright Law. It is made available by the University of Baltimore for non-commercial research and educational purposes.
Subjectspolice drug abuse
police drug abuse perceptions
police drug abuse testing policy
police drug abuse testing policy fairness perceptions
Port Authority of New York & New Jersey
President Ronald Reagan Executive Order 12564
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Police Division
Drugs and employment
New York (State)
Drug Free America Act of 1986.
The purpose of this study is to examine the perceptions of police officers of the fairness of drug abuse testing and to derive meaning of these perceptions for the management of ethics in a large law enforcement agency. This study critically examines not only the nature and extent of the problem of police drug abuse but how police perceive the efficacy of drug abuse testing as a policy enforcement strategy. The goal of this study is to see how police departments and police officers reconcile drug testing strategy as an internal enforcement strategy with external reassurances to the public that police performance can be trusted and supported. The objectives of the study are to determine whether the drug abuse testing policy is fair, whether the police perception and issues of compliance are due to the lack of understanding the nature for the drug abuse testing policy, and whether any lack of participation in the design and implementation process could result from a lack of sense of belonging in the police organization. In examining these dynamics, the central question and subsidiary questions are identified. The central question guiding the study is: what are the perceptions of police officers of the fairness of a mandated drug abuse testing policy? The subsidiary question is: what is the impact of these perceptions on the officers’ sense of belonging in the police organization? Police departments across the United States have implemented drug abuse testing programs to eliminate illegal drug abuse but little is known about police officers’ perceptions of the fairness of these programs. The efficacy of drug abuse testing programs has been influenced by the police officers’ perceptions since 1986 when President Ronald Reagan signed Executive Order 12564, Drug Free Federal Workplace. The Order specifically condemns the use of illegal drugs both on and off the job. For this study, the Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey is the case study. As an interstate compact approved by the Congress of the United States, the Port Authority serves an interstate metropolitan area including New York and New Jersey. Thus, a federal executive order has particular relevance to this type of law enforcement agency. The methodology of this study focuses on a sampling frame resulting in a sample of 150 Port Authority police officers. Through volunteered participation of these officers in a survey and a narrative interview of the police administrator in charge of executing the drug abuse testing policy, data is generated on what officers know about the policy, how they perceived it and how their perceptions relate to their identity with the Port Authority as a law enforcement agency. The literature review in this study identifies eight perceptions of fairness predictor items addressing the central and subsidiary research questions. The results indicate that the perceptions of fairness predictor items identifies the perceptions of police officers regarding the fairness of the mandated drug abuse testing policy and indicate the importance of having a sense of belonging in the police organization and participation in the design. Consequently, these perceptions have an impact on the efficacy of implementing a fair drug abuse testing policy in the Port Authority Police. These predictor items strongly suggest that police officers agree that the drug abuse testing policy is fair in reducing drug abuse, on the importance of participating in the design and implementation of the drug abuse testing policy, and on the importance of having a sense of belonging in the police organization. These officers also agree on the importance of being familiar with personal/situational job factors crystallized awareness of the drug abuse testing policy in the workplace, agree on the importance of having a clear, fully understood, and well-disseminated drug abuse testing policy, and on the importance of being aware of the existence of the drug abuse testing policy in the workplace. The narrative interview of the police administrator confirms the police officers’ responses in this study by indicating that the overall response from police officers being tested is positive. This response assures the Port Authority Police to feel comfortable with the existing drug abuse testing policy. This integration and generalized findings across variables in this study on police officers’ perceptions of the drug abuse testing policy coincides with the researcher’s goal. The results of this study provide police administrators with additional insights as they seek to modify and implement fair drug abuse testing policies. It also serves as a basis for future studies to examine this generally unexamined area and to critically examine the vital significance of police perceptions towards drug abuse testing policies. Additional research seems needed on police perceptions to drug abuse testing policies, as the study is limited and appears to be a deficiency in the literature. A recommendation for additional research is warranted to compare this study to larger police population sample and varied law enforcement agencies, as the Port Authority Police of New York and New Jersey is a unique police department. In addition, research seems to be needed in other public service agencies, as they are affected by state and federal mandates of drug abuse testing policies.
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