The Austin Chronicle

Dallas Police Say One Line Is Fine

By Jordan Smith, January 11, 2008, 11:00am, Newsdesk

The Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee on Jan. 7 approved a policy that would allow Dallas Police officials to hire applicants who have used “hard” drugs – only once, mind you – including cocaine. Under the new policy applicants who admit to having tried a “serious illegal drug” no more than one time will not be automatically barred from seeking employment with the PD – so long as the drug use took place 10 years ago, prior to the applicants 21st birthday, and did not including shooting up, reports The Dallas Morning News.

The new, once-only-and-no-junkies policy was a compromise offered by one council member, Ron Natinsky, after his colleagues balked at a more “lenient” policy suggested by Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle that would not automatically disqualify applicants who’d admitted to up to four incidences of past hard-drug use. Apparently that was just too liberal for some council members who raised questions about what sort of “message” such a policy would send – especially to “the children.” When it looked like the relaxed policy would tank on a council vote, member David Neumann, who initially was opposed to the move, stepped in to broker the once-only compromise, the DMN reports. “We have to be responsible role models to our families, to our friends, and to our citizens,” he said. “And part of that is being benevolent in understanding that we make mistakes.”

In other law enforcement news, the Drug Reform Coordination Network reports that thanks to an infusion of cash contained in the 2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act passed by Congress in December, the Drug Enforcement Administration will be able to hired 200 new agents, ending a hiring freeze in effect since mid-2006. The agency already employs 5,230 agents, and has an annual budget of over $2 billion – in 1972, the agency’s first year in existence, the DEA employed just 1,470 agents and had a total annual budget of $65 million. In all, it appears the drug business is alive and well.

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