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The Nation : Court Upholds Drug Tests for N.Y. Police

Random urine testing for drugs among an elite corps of New York City police officers is legal because of the dangerous and sensitive nature of their work, a divided New York state Court of Appeals ruled in Albany. The 5-2 decision by the state’s top court not only overturns two lower court rulings, it constitutes an “about face” for a court which only last year ruled that a drug-testing plan for Long Island teachers was an unreasonable invasion of their privacy, the dissenting judges said. The court decision upholds New York City Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward’s 1986 order that members of the department’s Organized Crime Control Bureau must undergo random urinalysis for drugs. About 1,100 of the city’s 27,000 police officers volunteer for duty in the special unit. Up to 90% are involved in narcotics-related work. “The terror-filled world they are working in requires the sternest precautionary safeguards to weed out drug abusers from their own ranks,” Judge Joseph Bellacosa wrote for the majority.


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