Atlanta Police changes recruiting policy regarding drug testing

The Atlanta Police Department will take applications from individuals who use drugs, specifically marijuana.

The controversial policy is a change from what has been done for years.

A question was asked early on in the recruiting process whereby the recruiter wanted to know if that applicant uses or had used marijuana.

During a recent job fair attended by some 40 applicants, only one-third were allowed to go to the next stage. An admission by many that they are recreational users of drugs held them back.

A spokesperson for Chief Erika Shields says with the change in attitudes here and across the country regarding marijuana, it does not make sense to ban those applicants who admit their use.

Even so, the department requires those applicants -- should they advance to getting a job offer, pledge they will not use any drugs going forward.

But Vince Champion, the southeast director for the police union, does not like the new policy.

He says adding recruits and potential officers who tell you up front they enjoy illegal drugs puts everyone at risk.

Champion says current officers want to know that a young patrolman called to help a fellow officer is capable of functioning at the highest level on any call.

The chief's office says every recruit, within a week of getting the job offer, undergoes a drug screening.