DRE scandal: Ruling opens door to finding out where cops got their pot

drescandal3.jpeg
The DRE scandal resulted in no criminal charges, but some of the program's subjects are seeking substantial civil compensation.
A federal judge has green-lighted a lawsuit brought by Occupy protesters against law enforcement agencies that allegedly gave them pot as part of officers' Drug Recognition Expert training.

The ruling means the case is headed toward a trial that could reveal where officers got the pot they allegedly doled out to protesters in exchange for their participation in the controversial program, which was the subject of a five-part City Pages series.

See also:
Contradicting published reports, Mark Dayton now denies telling moms to buy pot off street

"In light of the clear prohibition on providing illicit drugs to citizens," the State Patrol and other law enforcement organizations such as the Olmsted and Nobles counties' sheriff's offices "are not entitled to the protection of qualified immunity," U.S. District Judge John Tunheim writes in his ruling.

The lawsuit alleges officers violated Occupy protesters' First and Fourteenth Amendment rights in disrupting the Occupy protests by hauling people away from places like downtown Minneapolis's Peavey Plaza so they could get high and have their behavior monitored.

The idea was that officers could learn to quickly identify what drug or drugs a person has been using by observing links between use, behavior, and physical appearance (dilated eyes, for example), but a documentary video released by local independent media activists in the spring of 2012 and a subsequent investigation indicated the whole thing was more small-town cops wilding out in the city than it was serious research.

Law enforcement "designed and implemented a pernicious human research experiment exposing young people from minority and/or disadvantaged backgrounds to various illegal drugs in an effort use these individuals as human guinea pigs for the benefit of law enforcement," North St. Paul attorney Nathan Hansen and New Jersey attorney Alan Milstein write in a summary of their suit.

"Not only was the experiment unethical by design, the defendants conducted their research without the informed consent of the human subjects, thus violating the most essential ethical requirements which form the basis of our laws and regulations governing human subject research."

Reached for comment this morning, Hansen offered this succinct breakdown of the case: "It's about your right not to be messed with."

"They're really vulnerable people [officers] preyed upon," Hansen says, noting that some who allegedly received drugs have mental illnesses. "They're treated as sub-human -- would you treat your kids like this?"

"It's really absurd," he adds. "I'm amazed there are so many people with college degrees who think this is something that's okay."

The non-classroom portion of the DRE program is no longer offered in Minnesota, but local officers are now shipped to California for a similar sort of training.

In the lawsuit, Hansen and Milstein demand a jury trial and specify they're seeking more than $2,000,000 in damages.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.



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12 comments
Greta von Otto
Greta von Otto

Suing because someone gave you pot? Moonbats just don't know when to say "Thank you" and move on.

Bob Alberti
Bob Alberti

Now they can say they were just helping with Governor Dayton's suggestion.

vitajex
vitajex

Pfft! This is America in 2014-

Cops show up in full riot gear with fully automatic heavy artillery if they get a noise complaint about a house party...

I don't think anybody in power is going to be doing anything about a little pot.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

Where did the cops get the pot?  LOL.  In the early 1980s, the Lyon County Sheriff's department and the Marshall Police department tended to collect EXACTLY the amount of weed required to meet a certain level of charges whenever they busted somebody.  And 2 particular cops, one from each department, tended to hang out in particular bars and insinuate themselves into certain social circles, offering to sell mighty fine weed mighty cheap.  Periodically, someone who had been seen buying weed from these cops would go out of town for a while, and then that individual's associates would get arrested.  These 2 cops used to take female adolescent minors who were known to have gotten in trouble on "ridealongs" with them, as well.

It wasn't new then, either.  And it most certainly hasn't stopped.  There's a reason all these guys are so dead-set against any relaxation of marijuana laws.  It's hard to make a stylish living on a rural cops' salary.  And there's no other way rural cops would get machine guns, armored cars, really cool gunsights and flashlights, and all the paramilitary death squad cosplay stuff the girls find so stimulating.

Premium
Premium

The kid on the left is a pot head who at any given day during the summer you can witness smoking marijuana at the Cedar Lake Hidden Beach.  

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

we all know where the cops got the chronic! 


how about hiring cops that actually have some common sense and arent total hicks from the sticks

Tanker10
Tanker10

And who gets the money ? . The Attorney's so they can fill there pockets .

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@Premium  LOL  you hang out at hidden beach!  that place sucks


it was cool in the 90's when girls were naked there

tscott10
tscott10

@Tanker10 It's not about the money.  How the hell are the cops gonna learn to not treat people like test monkeys unless some lawyer with a brain step up and takes on a risky, no-guarentee-of-a-win case to teach them a lesson?   

digitaldeath
digitaldeath

@tscott10  even though the evidence is strong, i dont think anything will happen as nobody really cares anymore

kdgarner
kdgarner

@digitaldeath @tscott10 

I'll bet some moms and dads that have been trying to help their mentally ill/chemically dependent kid get clean care.


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