This past week, I came across a video on Facebook of a news report on a Georgia police officer who had been arresting sober drivers on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. After posting the video to my own Facebook page, I decided to do some research.
Apparently, Cobb County, Georgia police officer Tracy Carroll made headlines in May of this year when a number of his DUI of marijuana cases were dismissed after it was discovered that those he arrested were stone-cold sober.
The video of Carroll’s arrest of Katelyn Ebner can be seen here: http://interactive.tegna-media.com/video/embed/embed.html?id=2594976&type=video&title=RAW%20-%20Katelyn%20Ebner%20dashcam&site=85&playerid=6918249996581&dfpid=32805352&dfpposition=Video_prestream_external%C2%A7ion=home
Ebner not only spent the night in jail, but spent thousands of dollars trying to prove that she was innocent even though a blood test revealed that she did not have any illegal substances in her system.
Carroll, a “drug recognition expert,” can be seen and heard having the following conversation with Ebner:
Officer Carrol: “I’m going to ask you a question, okay? When was the last time you smoked marijuana?”
Ebner: “Oh, I don’t do that. I can give you a drug test right now.”
Officer Carroll: “You don’t smoke marijuana?”
Ebner: “I do not, no.”
Officer Carroll: “Okay. Well, you’re showing me indicators that you have been smoking marijuana, okay?”
I wonder what exactly those indicators were that Officer Carroll had to go through such intensive training on to identify.
The International Association of the Chiefs of Police give the title of “drug recognition expert” to officers who have completed training on being able to identify when a person is under the influence of drugs based solely on their observations.
Officer Carroll’s not-so-accurate crystal ball also landed Princess Mbamara in jail on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana when, in fact, she too was sober.
Mbamara’s arrest can be seen here: http://interactive.tegna-media.com/video/embed/embed.html?id=2594904&type=video&title=RAW%20-%20Princess%20Mbamara%20dashcam&site=85&playerid=6918249996581&dfpid=32805352&dfpposition=Video_prestream_external%C2%A7ion=home
Princess Mbamara: “You’re arresting me because you think I smoke marijuana?”
Officer Carroll: “I think you’re impaired by cannabis, yes, ma’am.”
Princess Mbamara: “Sir, I don’t smoke weed! Is there a way you can test me right now?”
“I remember my lawyer trying to talk about a deal…I was like, ‘I’m not taking a deal. I didn’t do anything! I want more than just a deal – I want more than just a dismissal; I want my life back. Can you reverse time? If you can go back in time, then that’s what I really want,’” said Mbamara.
If you are as infuriated as I was when I watched these videos, you’ll be even more infuriated to know that Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) actually awarded Carroll and other officers for the number of DUI arrests they made. Forget about the fact that a number of Carroll’s arrestees were, in fact, innocent. Who knows how many others weren’t as lucky as Ebner or Mbamara. An arrest means nothing without a conviction. Remember that old phrase, “innocent until proven guilty?” MADD doesn’t care about that as they continue to incentivize officers arresting people who may not actually be driving under the influence.
And let’s go back to that “training” to become an “drug recognition expert.” Clearly, it’s a load of expletive, notwithstanding Cobb County’s outrageous claim that the training makes the officer’s determination more reliable than a blood or urine test. Let’s be honest, the officer’s “determination” is no more than a hunch.
Let me be perfectly clear: An officer’s hunch that a person is under the influence of drugs does not amount to the legally required probable cause needed to make an arrest. Arresting someone because of an officer’s hunch is an abuse of power.