The California Highway Patrol has initiated a new program intended to train officers to identify what substance a person is high on, whether it be heroin, alcohol, weed, or bath salts. The program, known as the Drug Recognition Evaluator Program (DRE), has taken the controversial step of allowing DRE officers to force homeless people to participate as subjects in the program. Cops are able to pick up anyone with probable cause, such as appearing intoxicated, carrying an open container, or pushing a shopping cart, and bring them in to the DRE field testing program.
Calvin Utley, a local “scrapper”, told Vice that he saw cops picking up homeless stragglers and giving them the option of participating in the program or going to jail. “They tend to get an ultimatum, whether they want to go to jail or go get tested,” Utley said. Charlotte Ward, who has been homeless off and on for 20 years, was at work when officers forced her to abandon her work tools and then took her to the DRE testing facility. “They just pulled up like Dukes of Hazzard and was like ‘I think you’re high and I’m gonna test you’ and stuff like that. I told them I was at work and they didn’t even get me a chance,” Ward said. “I felt like I was under their shoe, like some gum.”