Magical Cop Detects Drugs Better Than Blood Tests; Continues To Lock Innocent People Up

from the let's-just-shut-down-the-crime-lab-and-save-taxpayers-some-$$$ dept

In court filings, testimony, and warrant affidavits, law enforcement officers refer constantly to their “training and expertise.” Given enough time on the job and enough laser-printed certificates, any law enforcement officer can be an “expert” in anything… even detecting nonexistent drug impairment.

Atlanta’s 11 Alive News has been digging into Officer T.T. Carroll’s impressive run of Driving Under the Influence arrests and finding some that aren’t all that impressive. [h/t PitchforksAtTheGate] T.T. Carroll is a certified “Drug Recognition Expert,” having attended 160 hours of classes put on by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Carroll is referred to by his coworkers as the “go-to guy” for impairment arrests and was given an award by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving for racking up 90 DUI arrests in one year.

Whatever the IACP is teaching in its classes must be powerful stuff. Officer Carroll’s observational powers allow him to detect people impaired by drugs they’ve never had in their system.

Officer Carroll: “I’m going to ask you a question, okay? When was the last time you smoked marijuana?”

Katelyn Ebner: “Oh, I don’t do that. I can give you a drug test right now.”

Officer Carroll: “You don’t smoke marijuana?”

Katelyn Ebner: “I do not, no.”

Officer Carroll: “Okay. Well, you’re showing me indicators that you have been smoking marijuana, okay?”

Katelyn Ebner: “I’m going to jail for marijuana?”

Officer Carroll: “No, ma’am — not possession, unless I find any in your car. I believe you’re impaired by the marijuana you’ve smoked.”

Katelyn Ebner: “Okay, so when I do a drug test, I’ll be free to go, correct?”

Officer Carroll: “You’re going to jail, ma’am. Okay? I don’t have a magical drug test that I can give you right now.”

Ah, but Officer Carroll does have a “magical drug test.” It’s one he performs during stops that provides him with the probable cause for arrest, even when roadside impairment tests disagree with his PC assessment. And if his amazing drug recognition skills fail him, it’s the arrestees that pay the price. In the case of Ebner, whose blood test came back clean, it cost her her job. Ebner worked for a bar but her license to serve alcohol was revoked because of the impairment arrest. Four months after her bogus arrest, she was cleared of all charges. All well and good, but being cleared of charges doesn’t undo the damage done during the four months when charges were still pending.

The 11 Alive report examines two more arrests involving Officer Carroll’s superhuman ability to detect drugs blood tests can’t even find. In all three cases, lab tests for substances came up clean. Rather than offer to take a look at the super-productive officer’s body of work, the police department has doubled down on its assertion that Officer Carroll detects drugs better than a blood test.

Complaints filed by arrestees have gone nowhere. The Cobb County PD’s internal investigators responded with one highly-dubious claim…

Cobb County Investigators exonerated the officer and doubted Ebner’s innocence, insisting, ‘the marijuana could have already metabolized out of the blood.’

And one highly-infuriating one:

“When you brought up that you had a clean blood test when complaining to Internal Affairs, their answer was what?” Keefe asked.

“They said, ‘Yeah, we see this happen all the time. Um, the test results come back wrong all the time,'” she said.

These would be the same drug tests prosecution experts would claim to be infallible if needed to secure a conviction. This lab apparently only hands out false negatives.

The consequences of Officer Carroll’s “drug whispering” will never be felt by Officer Carroll. His department is already shielding him from the press and if these complaints become civil rights lawsuits, it’s highly likely Carroll’s “expertise” will result in a granting of qualified immunity. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, but no more so than in the hands of someone with a great deal of power and very little accountability.

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Comments on “Magical Cop Detects Drugs Better Than Blood Tests; Continues To Lock Innocent People Up”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The most ironic (and wrong) part about this is that Marijuana drug tests are often wrong in the direction of reporting someone as under the influence who isn’t.

If you last used Marijuana weeks or even months ago, it can still be detected in your system in some drug tests, even if you’re no longer under it’s influence.

Farside says:

Is there any recourse?

Is there anything at all that can be done in these kinds of situations?

Let’s pretend the arrestee had unlimited money and resources and wanted to put an end to this bullshit. What could be done?

Sometimes I have to stop visiting this site because ignorance is bliss and this shit scares the hell outta me.

dani says:

Re: Is there any recourse?

actually, with enough time and money, you hire a decent attorney and begin civil trials. you hopefully find a few other people it happened to with the same officer. the police do things wrong all the time and aren’t held accountable because no one has the time or money to take the department to task for training its officers right–i.e. a civil suit. civil suits are how great battles against power are won.

DannyB (profile) says:

Don't worry Sessions will fix this

Don’t worry Sessions will fix this.

Civil rights groups alarmed at Justice Department’s review of local police settlements

Sessions tells DOJ to revisit Obama-era agreements with local police departments

Don’t Let Jeff Sessions Undermine Police Reform

AG Sessions Orders Review of DOJ Police Conduct Investigations — Restore, Respect Local Control

Jeff Sessions ties increase in violent crime to ‘undermined’ respect for police

This one I’ll comment on by asking: who exactly has undermined the respect for police? Perhaps an investigation should be started into that.

AG Sessions’ Strong Support of Local Police Misses Key Point

I could post more, but why.

We need more law and order!
(especially by the people who are supposed to give us law and order!)

Daydream says:

Re: Consequences

Yup. Whenever accused of drug use, bring in an ‘expert’ witness who can testify that marijuana triggers the release of pigments that turn your nose bright green, in your body only.

When the court questions the reliability of your witness, challenge the reliability of their police testimony. When they bring evidence of good character, bring out Carroll and every single other officer who’s lied about drug tests in Cobb Country, noting any contradictions between their statements and that of prosecutors.

That One Guy (profile) says:

'The evidence disagrees with the official claims, therefore the evidence is wrong.'

The consequences of Officer Carroll’s "drug whispering" will never be felt by Officer Carroll. His department is already shielding him from the press and if these complaints become civil rights lawsuits, it’s highly likely Carroll’s "expertise" will result in a granting of qualified immunity.

Of course, because when all you care about is convictions the fact that a few/many/majority of those charged are innocent is irrelevant, as whether or not someone is guilty or not doesn’t change the number of convictions. Challenging the miraculous ability to spot drugs might be wrong would lead to a decrease in convictions, and we can’t have that now can we?

Add to that it’s a cop making the accusations and ruining lives, and as any police union(and many departments, and judges, and DAs…) will tell you a cop is never wrong. If the tests came out negative after he’s declared that the accused has used drugs then the test must be wrong(this time, any positives are of course completely and 100% accurate).

The level of denial on display would almost be impressive if it weren’t so incredibly damaging to those impacted by it, as it is it’s simply yet another perfect example of why people are increasingly losing any respect they might have had for the police.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Get them on perjury.

The problem with this is that, at least in his own mind, he didn’t lie. He was ‘certified’ as a ‘Drug Recognition Expert’. Now, that certificate might be the lie, but it didn’t testify in court.

Another thing is, is a ‘Drug Recognition Expert’ certified as someone who can tell the difference between crumbs from donut frosting vs cocaine, or someone who can not only tell that someone is on drugs, but what kind, (and maybe which regional pharma plant they came from as well as the year of production), just by looking at someone?

TruthHurts (profile) says:

Undercover Fed is what's needed.

Have an Undercover fed drive around “suspiciously”, until the “drug detection god” falls for the bait.

Then, when he’s about to make his “arrest”, boom, feds swarm in, slam him into the ground, slap the cuffs on him and take him away for a one way trip to Gitmo for life.

I figure if the “police officer” can’t bother to follow the law, and makes false arrests as well as falsifying police reports, then he can just get sent somewhere to sit and rot for the rest of his life.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Undercover Fed is what's needed.

Take the same training he did and then a little bit more. Follow him around (driving) until he does something slightly incorrect (shouldn’t take long, he’s a cop). Pull him over and make a citizen’s arrest for marijuana indicators. After all, you’ll be a more “expert” expert than he is at that point.

Mellow says:

Re: What authority?

See Subject

So, I visit Mom in Colorado, inhale some legal smoke and travel back home to a non-legal-inhale-smoke state and…

Oh yoo-hoo! Yo, prison-for-profit yahoos, your karma is coming to getcha. Somehow methinks you’all will be booted off the boat in due time.

What a country. What a bad-dream dizzy (Disney) loony bin this is.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Anyone want to crowdfund the cash to put someone through the same programs?
I think someone similarly trained showing up in the police station saying they are all on drugs would lead to fun. They have to arrest themselves, or admit the system is bullshit.

I suppose the only upside is they can claim it isn’t the often wrong $2 field tests screwing people.

Oblate (profile) says:

Officer Carroll: "Okay. Well, you’re showing me indicators that you have been smoking marijuana, okay?"

Can the officer explain the indicators displayed and provide details about how she failed each of them, either in his report or under oath in a court of law? If not, how does this proceed any further? Or has the legal system become so degraded that evidence is no longer needed in a case of this magnitude?

D.C. Pathogen (profile) says:

Cobb county Sheriff

Which family member of the Cobb county sheriff Neil Warren’s is running the certification class?

Deputy: Didn’t you just refuse to go out with my brother? You must be on drugs I’m certified.

Deputy: Aren’t you the one that sold my nephew that broken Zune? You must be on drugs I’m certified.

Deputy: You didn’t make a sizable donation to my kids collage fund? You must be on drugs, I’m certified.

Deputy: Did you just look me in the eye sinner? You must be on drugs, I’m certified.

Deputy: If I make 2 more bogus arrests the week, I will get a promotion and more money. You must be on drugs, I’m certified.

Anonymous Coward says:

Officer titty, as well as any officers who claim some kind of magical ability, should be able to demonstrate it for the court, validated by a scientific panel or, failing that, the Randi foundation. Failing to demonstrate this superhuman talent, they should inmediately be captured and charged with fraud.

In a fair world I mean

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

validated by a scientific panel or, failing that, the Randi foundation.

Good catch, if he’s really a magic drug detector then a few hours, maybe a day max and he could easily score a million bucks and validation for his miraculous ability. Of course I imagine he’d pull a Geller and ‘just not feel it’ that day, or any other day of testing…

Anonymous Coward says:


I’ve been seeing this more and more, and it’s just disgusting. When the hell did “arrest” start equaling “conviction”?

Think about it. In all but the most technical senses, it really does. And even being exonerated does not change things. It’s even worse in cases like CP or rape, where the stigma *never* goes away, no matter innocence or mistaken identity or what have you. Once arrested, always tainted.

Gence Nointeli says:

Magic drug test

Instead of charging someone with a criminal offense based on this training, suspend driver’s license for 12 – 24 hours plus this training can only be used when the traffic stop was for a moving violation, not a broken tail light.

BTW Does anybody remembers the tv show “lie To Me” This training appears to be closely related to the subject of the tv show, becoming a human lie detector by watching the subject rather than listening. Questions are asked, answers are given & heard, but it’s the subject’s body language that they are using to determine truthfulness.

Problems arise when the environment around the officer and subject is ignored. Time of day, Lighting, traffic, weather, all can influence the behavior of both officer and subject.

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