Ontario’s two largest police forces have stepped up training for their officers to better detect drugged driving as legislation on legalizing marijuana looms in Ottawa.
Both Toronto police and Ontario Provincial Police are waiting to pore over the federal government’s much-anticipated pot bill, which is expected to be tabled on Thursday, with a keen eye on provisions around impaired driving related to the drug.
In Toronto, about a dozen officers are being trained each month in field sobriety testing, a series of physical movements used by police to test for drug impairment, according to Const. Clint Stibbe of the force’s traffic services. There are already about 200 officers trained in that area, he said.
The force is also expanding its team of drug recognition evaluators — officers who interview and further test individuals who have been arrested on suspicion of drugged driving.
One new officer will be added to the team this year, and three more will be added next year, Stibbe said, noting there are currently 15 drug recognition evaluators on the force. One is available 24 hours a day.
The Toronto team is part of more than 200 drug recognition evaluators across the province, the Ontario Provincial Police said.
OPP Sgt. Peter Leon said the provincial force has 85 such officers of its own and more are being trained every month.
While both Stibbe and Leon were leery of predicting the future given the unknowns of the upcoming marijuana legislation, they were bracing for an uptick in drugged driving.