D.C. police officer Amelia Scott, who was held in civil contempt last week after refusing an unusual court order to submit to a drug test, said yesterday she had no fear of taking the test but declined for reasons of pride.
Scott, a two-year member of the force, said she was asleep with her feet propped up on a chair in a witness room in D.C. Superior Court when the phone rang calling her to the witness stand.
About three hours later, Scott stood before Judge Rufus King and refused his order that she submit to a urinalysis, after the judge suggested she might have been under the influence of drugs when she testified.
"I had no fear about taking that drug test," Scott said in an interview. "I had not used drugs. I had not had anything to drink."
Scott said her "pride was hurt" by the judge's suggestion and that she did not hesitate to disobey the order for the test.
"I think it's an invasion of someone's privacy. For officers who have already been on the force, I just don't think it's right," she said.
"I knew I was totally innocent. I knew that I hadn't done anything."
The incident has caused an uproar throughout the ranks of city police, who say they are being subjected to unwarranted harassment from defense attorneys, and now from at least one judge.
A 1976 graduate of Bowie High School, Scott said she took two years of courses in law enforcement at Prince George's Community College before joining the force. She said she is separated from her husband and lives with her 6-year-old daughter in Southeast Washington.
Scott said she has received numerous phone calls and visits from fellow officers who support her defiance of the order.
A captain at the 7th District where Scott works the midnight shift sent a "bag full of granola bars and vitamins because she didn't think I was eating enough," Scott said.
Another colleague brought a half dozen pink roses to Scott's Southeast apartment, she said.
"They say how angry they are for what has happened," Scott said, "not with me, but with the judge."
Scott called the incident a misunderstanding. "I felt the judge could have come out and talked to me himself," she said. "I couldn't believe that anything would come about that way."
A 26-year-old patrol officer who joined the force in 1981, Scott said she had slept only about 10 hours in the three days leading up to the trial.
Scott was one of two officers who arrested a man charged with the break-in of a Southwest convenience store in November. She said she had appeared in court on Monday to testify, after working overtime on the midnight shift the night before.
The jury was chosen but the trial did not begin that day. Scott said she did not get to sleep until 8 that night after fixing dinner for her 6-year-old daughter, but she then reported to work again at 10:30 p.m.
Scott said she was "exhausted" on Tuesday when the clerk called her in to testify, but she disagreed with witness accounts that she seemed "incoherent" on the stand.
"As far as I'm concerned, my speech was fine. I was just waking up, and I was tired," she said.
Under King's order, Scott is being fined $25 for every hour that she does not report to the city's bail agency for the drug test, up to $2,000. She said she will not pay.
"She's not going to pay anything," said her attorney, James Malloney. "There are enough officers who will put in money. She will not pay."