A year ago, Prince George's County Police Chief Michael Flaherty announced that his department would begin random drug testing of all officers. The program was to be the most far-reaching of any undertaken by area law enforcement agencies and one of the first in the nation in which officers would be subject to random testing.
Testing was supposed to start in January, but it didn't.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the county police union, which initially supported the idea, backed off once rank-and-file officers realized that any officer could be tested for illegal drug use on any day.
And the police administration, concerned about the accuracy of the tests, found the price tag for the most reliable test procedures a bit high for the department's budget.
So now, the program officially "is on hold," said Cpl. Bruce Gentile, a department spokesman.
Currently, county police are required to undergo a drug test whenever a supervisor suspects he or she may be using illegal drugs or prescription drugs that hinder job performance.
Under the policy that was never implemented, officers would be required without notice to give a urine sample that would be checked for cocaine, marijuana, heroin, opiates, barbiturates and amphetamines. A positive result would lead to a second, more thorough testing of the same urine sample. A second positive result would result in disciplinary action against the officer.
"The program has not been abandoned," Gentile said. "There has just not been any movement. The differences between the administration and the union will be worked out to everyone's satisfaction."
But the FOP, the union that represents the 930-member force, thinks the idea is dead. Police unions in Boston and Plainfield, N.J., stopped similar programs in court.
"I think they would have real problems implementing it without our support," an FOP spokesman said.