A police officers’ union has filed a complaint against the City of Pittsburgh, Pa. for requiring officers to submit to drug and alcohol tests that allegedly violate their employment contracts and the U.S. Constitution.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay has made it department policy to perform drug and alcohol tests on officers involved in a car chase ending in a crash even when the officer in question does not specifically make impact with another vehicle. Pittsburgh police officers’ employment contracts call for testing whenever they discharge a weapon, are involved in a crash, or are suspected of being under the influence at work.
The complaint was filed on behalf of officers who were ordered to submit to testing after participating in car chases ending in crashes in which they themselves did not make impact with a vehicle.
Pittsburgh police union attorney Bryan Campbell told WPXI-TV, “I don’t know why the city suddenly changed the policy on this, and it’s our position that this is an illegal search and seizure.”
Chief Cameron McLay argued, “Regardless of whether or not they were a collision vehicle, the reality is I consider us to have been involved. We are going to interpret that policy as I believe it was intended and protect the officers, as well as the community, by verifying that the officer wasn’t impaired.”
“[Officers] don’t forfeit their constitutional rights to protect the city from a civil liability,” said Campbell, implying that Chief McLay’s motive in ordering the tests is to protect the city from potential lawsuits.
Pursuant to the complaint, Pittsburgh’s Department of Law is set to review Chief McLay’s interpretation of the policy. If Campbell’s interpretation of the wording of the employment contract prevails, Pittsburgh will be forced to stop testing officers unless they’re directly involved in a collision impact. Otherwise, the dispute will move forward in an arbitration process.