Employees at the Albany County Sheriff’s Office will begin receiving random drug tests in January, with a fourth of all employees being tested each quarter.
Sheriff David O’Malley said random testing is “something that should be done anytime you’re in public safety.”
Pre-employment screening did not begin until three years ago — an oversight O’Malley called “ridiculous.”
Since pre-employment screening began, no applicants have failed a drug test, he said.
“A lot of times, when they know up front that it’s a condition of employment, they’re probably not going to take the test,” he said.
As with most law enforcement agencies in Wyoming, the Sheriff’s Office struggles with recruitment and retention.
“It’s been a never ending issue since I started in law enforcement in 1974,” O’Malley said.
Despite that, O’Malley said he had no hesitance about introducing the new policy — even if it means the firing of an employee who used marijuana legally.
“It’s a matter of time. Some law enforcement agency in Wyoming is going to have an officer that goes to Colorado and tests positive,” he said. “That’s probably when court cases are going to start because they might be doing it in a place where it’s legal, but you really don’t want people driving police cars and fire trucks when they might be under a controlled substance.”
Lawsuits challenging drug testing policies in the U.S. based on claims of privacy rights are overwhelmingly unsuccessful.
The Laramie Police Department already requires employees to submit to random drug tests using the same methods the Sheriff’s Office will begin using in January.
O’Malley, the former LPD chief of police, said it has been a goal of his to implement the new drug testing policy since he first was elected sheriff in 2010. Previously, Albany County Commissioners have declined the testing plan because of cost.
Christina Snowberger, Albany County’s human resource director,said she expects 10-12 employees to be drug-tested each month, and tests will cost $13 or $35, depending on which type of test is administered.