Determinants of Drug Testing Policies in Law Enforcement Agencies: Building and Testing a Theory of Public Sector Drug Testing

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Title: Determinants of Drug Testing Policies in Law Enforcement Agencies: Building and Testing a Theory of Public Sector Drug Testing
Author: Brunet, James Robert
Advisors: William R. Smith, Committee Member
Dennis M. Daley, Committee Member
Deborah L. Weisel, Committee Member
Michael L. Vasu, Committee Chair
Abstract: Drug testing has become an increasingly important part of our social lives, especially in the workplace. This is particularly the case in the public sector where military personnel, police officers, transportation workers, and those seeking government employ routinely submit to government mandated drug screens. The genesis of large-scale drug testing of public workers is often traced back to President Reagan's 1986 call for a 'drug-free federal workplace' (Executive Order 12564). State and local governments, particularly law enforcement agencies, followed the federal example and rapidly implemented drug testing policies. A large majority of local law enforcement agencies (approximately 77 percent) now test all job applicants, up from 25 percent in 1990. The purpose of this investigation is to identify the historical, political, and legal preconditions that led to the widespread adoption of workplace drug testing in the public sector. This knowledge provides the theoretical platform for an empirical study of the factors that lead police departments to adopt different drug testing policies. For safety sensitive positions, courts have granted government employers wide discretion in selecting from a menu of employee drug testing strategies. Random and mandatory screening of current and prospective public safety workers is permissible as long as certain due process procedures are followed. With such a wide range of options available, what leads one agency to adopt a more rigorous approach such as universal testing while another agency abstains from testing workers altogether? An emerging literature that conceives of drug testing as a mechanism of social control provides the theoretical base for this inquiry. An analysis of a random sample of law enforcement agencies (n=1,988) finds evidence that social distance within police organizations (size of the sworn workforce, racial diversity), the social status of officers (starting salary), and the influence of third parties (collective bargaining) play significant roles in shaping a department's drug testing policy. The policy, administrative, and research issues emerging from the analysis are also discussed.
Date: 2003-04-30
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Public Administration
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/4414


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