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RCSO deputies complete drug recognition program

Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett, left, and Chief Deputy Scott Freeman, right, stand with Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Nathan Watts, center left, and Curtis Thompson, who recently completed the Drug Recognition Expert Program. Watts and Thompson are the only two RCSO deputies with this certification. (Special photo)

Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett, left, and Chief Deputy Scott Freeman, right, stand with Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office Deputies Nathan Watts, center left, and Curtis Thompson, who recently completed the Drug Recognition Expert Program. Watts and Thompson are the only two RCSO deputies with this certification. (Special photo)

CONYERS — Two Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been recognized for completing the Drug Recognition Expert Program.

Deputy Nathan Watts and Deputy Curtis Thompson completed the Drug Recognition Expert Program on Nov. 8. They are the only two DRE’s at the RCSO. Approximately 190 deputies are DRE-certified in the state of Georgia.

Training for the DRE program consists of 240 hours of combined classroom and field evaluations. Students are taught to recognize specific indicators, signs and symptoms of each drug category.

After completing the classroom portion of the DRE program, students traveled to Maricopa County in Phoenix, Ariz., where they spent a week doing DRE evaluations on suspects who had been arrested and were impaired.

The Drug Recognition Expert program was started in 1979 by two Los Angeles Police Department officers who began the program to combat the inability of officers to recognize and make prosecutable cases where drivers were obviously impaired, but had little or no alcohol in their system to account for it.

The DRE program is a three-step decision-making process: first, to verify that the subject is impaired and that the blood alcohol concentration is not consistent with the impairment; second, to determine whether the impairment is drug or medically related (injury or illness); and third, to use proven medical diagnostic procedures to determine the category or combination of categories of drugs that are likely to cause the impairment.

“I want to commend Deputy Watts and Deputy Thompson for their hard work” said Sheriff Eric Levett. “The DRE program is a very tough certification to obtain and indicates the dedication and passion these two deputies have for their jobs.”