Pittsburgh police are opposing drug and alcohol testing outside the limits of their union contract. The officers' union said that testing them after a chase violates the Constitution (video below).
“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,” Bryan Campbell, a lawyer who represents the police union, told WPXI.
“They don't forfeit their constitutional rights to protect the city from a civil liability,” Campbell added.
The union contract only allows drug and alcohol testing if an officer is suspected of being under the influence while on the job, fires a weapon, or is involved in a vehicle crash.
Unidentified sources told the TV station that officers involved in a chase were recently told to undergo testing. A crash did occur during the chase, but it is unclear whether a police vehicle was directly involved in the collision.
The union has filed a civil rights grievance against the City of Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay defended the testing of officers involved in chases, which he believes is allowed under the contract.
“Regardless whether or not they were a collision vehicle, the reality is I consider us to have been involved,” McLay said.
“We are going to interpret this policy as I believe it was intended and protect the officers, as well as the community, by verifying that officer wasn't impaired,” McLay added.
If the law department determines that the testing is legal, the grievance will be passed on to an arbitration panel. The panel will then rule on it.
Citizens charged with misdemeanor drug offenses can lose their jobs and homes and gain a criminal record, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in November.