More than 970 law enforcement officers from nearly every state in the United States, and from several countries recently attended the 22d annual Training Conference on Drugs, Alcohol, and Impaired Driving held in Denver by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The Colorado Department of Transportation was the host-city organizer. Attendance was the highest for any event in IACP’s history of 22 such conferences.
The event brought together police officers, drug recognition experts, prosecutors, and toxicologists to learn from each other and from international experts. The event was held August 13-15 at the Hyatt Regency on 15th Street in Denver.
Latest Science on Impaired Driving
The conference’s mix of plenary sessions and concurrent workshops gave attendees the chance to get up to date on the latest science and practice. Among the topics covered were the implications for traffic safety if marijuana is no longer prohibited; the use of Oral Fluid Testing for DUID; and ways attendees can improve their report writing and DRE evaluations.
Coloradans figured prominently in the opening of the conference, with Stan Hilkey of the Colorado Department of Public Safety giving a welcome at the opening ceremony.
Also giving welcoming remarks were: Gina Espinosa-Salcedo, regional administrator of the Region 8 headquarters of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in Lakeland; Shailen P. Bhatt, executive director of CDOT; Robert White, chief of the Denver Police Department; Col. Scott Hernandez, Colorado State Patrol; and Darrell Lingk, director of the Colorado Office of Transportation Safety.
Giving keynote speeches were Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Chief Robert Ticer of the Loveland Police Department, chair of the DRE Technical Advisory Panel.
Traffic Safety Implications of Legalized Pot
On the first day of the conference, there was a general session on the traffic safety implications of ending marijuana prohibition. The five panelists, all from states where recreational marijuana is legal, included three from Colorado: Glenn Davis, Colorado Highway Safety manager, Denver; Maj. Steve Garcia, Colorado State Patrol in Lakewood; and Jack Reed, Colorado Criminal Division of Criminal Justice, Denver.
Also on the panel were traffic safety stakeholders from Oregon and Washington. The panel’s moderator was Chief Robert Ticer of the Loveland, Colorado, Police Department. The discussion addressed the fact that in states where marijuana is legal, and in other states as well, there have been more traffic accidents and impaired driving cases related to marijuana consumption.
Also on Saturday, Chris Halser of Understanding Legal Marijuana LLC in Denver spoke about new marijuana products — some of which have already resulted in crashes — and their implications for impaired driving. He discussed ways the products may affect users, especially drivers.
Prosecuting DUID Cases
A panel featuring prosecutors covered effective ways cannabis research can be used to prove DUID cases in court. That presentation was designed to help toxicologists and law enforcement officers as well as prosecutors.
At Monday’s session, three Coloradans discussed “Innovative Approaches to Impaired Driving Awareness — Colorado’s Experience.” Sam Cole of the CDOT Office of Communications, Ali Maffey of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and Mackie Clonts of Amélie Company, discussed Colorado’s innovative approach to impaired driving campaigns, which have featured smoking marijuana cars and cartoons for adults.