New random drug tests for Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department employees

Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 6:29 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Surveys indicate law enforcement officers are twice as likely to have substance abuse disorders when compared to the general population, according to Psychology Today. Part of the reason is the job comes with high stress and traumatizing experiences. Many departments across the country are now pushing for greater officer wellness.

Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department employees are now subject to random drug testing.

“We had an incident several years ago in our department that showed a need to move in this direction. It’s always been something we have talked about,” said Kelly Leben, Sheriff of Burleigh County.

The Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department is now working to push for greater officer wellness. They have started randomly drug testing their deputies who face very stressful situations every day.

“You can have dozens of shifts in a row where there isn’t a hectic situation, and then that one day you get one call that forever changes your career or changes your outlook. I firmly believe you have to have a strong support system both at work and outside in order to deal with that stress,” said Burleigh County Sheriff’s Sgt. Elliot Carvell.

The drug test is comprised of a urinalysis for drugs and a breathalyzer for alcohol. The drug testing has been rolled out and deputies say it has gone smoothly.

“Good officers don’t want to work with drug abusers. Most cops know the line of no good cop wants to work with a bad cop. I certainly believe that someone who does have an abuse problem is something that needs to be addressed,” said Carvell.

So far, no one has failed a drug test, and the department doesn’t expect that to happen. But if a test comes back positive, the department’s policy goes into effect and disciplinary action is taken.

“The whole goal of the program is to help keep people accountable. I think taxpayers and the citizens of Burleigh County want to know they have good, quality, professional law enforcement. And we believe we do,” said Leben

The department has drug tested in the past when issues were suspected. Other police departments within the area also do drug testing.

By the end of 2023, the department hopes to have 50% of the deputies tested.