October 26, 2021

Illuminating impairment in depth

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Officer Derrick Edick demonstrates the standardized field sobriety test performed by law enforcement to determine drug impairment Friday while at the Cortland Police Department. Edick will be training in the Drug Recognition Expert course in March.

Drugged driving can cause someone to drive erratically, but so can medical conditions or medicines. Soon Cortland police Officer Derrick Edick will be able to distinguish between the three.

Edick was recently announced as the department’s first officer to attend Drug Recognition Expert training in March.

“It’s a lot of pressure, but also a good opportunity to show that despite everything I do with vehicle and traffic (enforcement) I can take things to the next level and provide a great service for the department and neighboring agencies,” Edick said. “I feel with this I could be a better liaison to other officers if they’re in a situation where they’re not sure of a driver.”

To get into the training program, run through the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, Edick had to attend advanced roadside impairment driving enforcement training, perform standardized field sobriety tests in front of a panel and complete an oral interview.

The three-week drug recognition program teaches officers how to spot signs of drug or alcohol impairment.

Drug recognition training goes into more depth than standard field sobriety training about the ways drugs and medical conditions can affect the body, said state police Trooper Jonathan Cook.

Cook became certified as a drug recognition expert 2 1/2 years ago and compared the training to taking a college course for two weeks, a minimum of eight hours a day Monday through Friday. Edick will also have to pass every quiz and test with an 80 or higher and become certified in the field.

“It’s an intense amount of information in a short amount of time,” Cook said. “You get course manuals ahead of time, but they are extensive and intimidating.”

Edick said he is nervous, but he’s also really interested in being able to categorize which of the seven types of drugs a person is on.

Cook said that with the training, Edick will also start noticing things he may not have before. That helped Cook during a traffic stop, when he helped a woman realize she had brain cancer in time to treat it. Cook had pulled the woman over he noticed her pupils were dilated. After determining she wasn’t on drugs and knowing that having dilated eyes could happen because of trauma he asked if she had recently suffered an injury. The woman hadn’t, but visited a doctor and discovered the cancer in time for treatment.

Edick said just becoming a cop with the city in 2015 is what motivated him through the training process.

“I reached my goal and with that being said I’m going to go out there and do as much as I can while I have this opportunity,” he said.