Drug testing police unit shut down
Queensland's renowned roadside police drug testing unit has been unceremoniously shut down after 13 years, leaving 20 officers out of a job and awaiting reassignment.
The unit has been on the front line of Queensland's fight against drug driving, conducting up to 25 per cent of the state's 75,000 random drug tests each, The Courier-Mail was told.
The officers were called into a meeting at Nundah Station on Monday with Assistant Commissioner Ben Marcus and told they were now surplus to requirements and would be reassigned when positions became available.
All officers were told to handover a list of three preferences for where they would like to be assigned to next, a source at the meeting said.
"They're miserable," the source said.
"There's 20 of us here and we believe in the program - we want to drug test and get the drivers off the road, so it's a kick in the guts for most of the boys.
"There's a few now contemplating early retirement."
The closure is part of Commissioner Katarina Carroll's major QPS restructure, which features a realignment of boundaries and commands.
A trial is underway to consider police efficiencies and to reduce duplication.
Regional officers are expected to make up for the shortfall now left by the closure of the unit.
Opposition police spokesman Dan Purdie said the move was a concern, given the spike in the road toll this year.
"Roadside drug testing is a vital tool in cracking down on drug affected drivers who shouldn't be on the road," he said.
"I'm gobsmacked by this decision which once again highlights why Queenslanders deserve to see a full state budget before the state election.
"We need more police on the ground to prevent and detect crime and that's what the LNP will deliver."
Commissioner Katarina Carroll said there would be no reduction to roadside drug testing as a result of the change.
"An internal review into the Queensland Police Service focused on better ways of meeting policing needs for the community.
"Some inefficiencies were identified and as a result the Roadside Drug Testing Unit is being disbanded to return much-needed people and equipment to the frontline.
"The capability and capacity to perform roadside drug testing around the state will not be impacted by these changes," Commissioner Carroll said.
Originally published as Drug testing police unit shut down