Government Fleet Top News

Testing City Employees Involved In Accidents for Drug Use Unlikely

December 29, 2004

GRANDVILLE, MI — A blanket policy requiring drug tests for Grandville city employees involved in motor vehicle accidents "does not appear to be advisable, or likely even permissible," City Manager Ken Krombeen told City Council members on Dec. 22, according to the Grand Rapids Press. Before such a policy could be implemented, Krombeen said, it would have to be approved by the city's unionized employees during bargaining negotiations. Krombeen's remarks, presented to the council in a memo, follow a discussion in November among council members on the city's lack of a drug-testing policy for employees involved in vehicular accidents. The issue was raised last month by council member Joe Sierawski after the council was informed that a firefighter had caused about $5,000 in damage to a fire pumper while driving it out of the fire station. When Sierawski asked Krombeen whether the firefighter was tested for drug and alcohol use, Krombeen told him no such test was administered and that the city has no policy that requires such testing. Instead, department heads have the discretion to demand such tests if they suspect drug or alcohol intoxication. In his memo, Krombeen noted that city policy prohibits any employee from showing up for work or being at work under the influence of intoxicants or controlled substances not taken under the supervision of a doctor. He said drug screening is done at the time of hiring and in instances "where a reasonable suspicion exists." Krombeen said specific actions required of department heads when employees are involved in accidents varies among departments. The policy for the fire department states that a "departmental investigation" is required when an accident or vehicle damage occurs. At the police department, a supervisor must be notified when a police vehicle is involved in a crash causing injury, complaint of injury, or property damage. Drug testing "can be conducted if reasonable suspicion exists." But at the wastewater treatment plant, drug testing is routine in any incident requiring medical treatment. Sierawski said after the meeting that the city's response to employee accidents "cries out for uniformity." No one has defined for him what "reasonable suspicion" means, he said. "To me, 'reasonable suspicion' is when you cause an accident," he added.

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