Suffolk County corrections officers are being paid a $1,000
bonus if they pass a mandatory drug test.
News Center 5's Janet Wu said that the extra pay -- for
obeying the law -- is being handed out despite a $6.5 billion
Suffolk County Sheriff Richard Rouse said that paying
corrections officers to take drug tests was the only way he
could get their cooperation and insure his guards were clean.
He said that it was simply the result of contract negotiations
with the unions.
The annual drug test is given anytime during a two-month
period around the officer's birthday.
At the Nashua Street Jail, they get the stipend only if they
pass the test.
"I asked the union to take the drug test voluntarily and they
were unwilling. Certainly, you have to have probable cause in
order to drug test someone. We thought this was a good
compromise," Rouse said.
Union representatives said that other law enforcement groups
have similar arrangements -- although their concessions from
management may take the form of college tuition and less
obvious pay incentives.
"You're not paying me to take a drug test. You are paying me
to be held to a higher standard. Our drug testing policy is as
good as any police department's policy, any law enforcement's
policy, and anytime that they negotiated a policy, they
received something for it," Local 419 spokesman Robert
"Everyone who is hired goes through a drug test, but if they
slip and fall during their career, we want to be sure that we
know about it," Rouse said.
Rouse said that he's tested 700 guards and that so far, 12
flunked -- less than 2 percent of the staff. If they flunk,
they're suspended without pay for 45 days and they can be
randomly tested for three years. If they flunk twice, they can
be fired. So far, no one has lost their job, Wu said.