Citizens’ Police Academy 2: Drug Recognition Expert

This is the second of 9 entries in a column about reporter Ethan Fowler’s participation in the Bainbridge Island Police Department’s 10-week Citizens’ Police Academy.

Learning the basics of drugs and alcohol – as well as the devastating impact of both – was discussed in easy-to-follow fashion by Kitsap County Sheriff’s Deputy Rob Corn Tuesday night.

Corn has strong ties to Bainbridge. In fact, his police career in many ways started there when he participated as a 16-year-old in the Winslow Police Department’s cadet program in 1989. After working five years with the Army’s military police, Corn served eight years with the Bainbridge Island P.D. before joining the Kitsap Sheriff’s Office eight years ago.

Corn told the crowd of 12 Citizens’ Academy participants that he was one of the 211 certified Drug Recognition Expert police officers employed in the state.

Driving while intoxicated offenses started Corn’s interesting PowerPoint presentation. He said people can be arrested for a DUI even if they blow below the state’s legal limit of .08 for alcohol on a Breathalyzer if it’s determined that they’re at all impaired. Refusing to take a Breathalyzer test can result in a driver losing their driver’s license for at least a year.

“In my experience they’re very accurate,” Corn said of Breathalyzer machines.

Drugs were also explained and broken down by Corn. This included:

— Central Nervous System Depressants, such as alcohol and valium. They affect speech, coordination and mobility.

— Central Nervous System Stimulants, which includes caffeine, cocaine, meth and Ritalin. They increase physical activity, mental alertness and attention span.

— Hallucinogens, such as LSD, Ecstasy, peyote, mushrooms. They amplify the mood you’re in.

— Dissociative Anesthetics, which includes PCP, cough syrup and Ketamine. They produce feelings of detachment.

— Narcotic Analgesics, such as heroin and morphine. These drugs are highly addictive and cause severe withdrawal symptoms. People who use these often have a gravelly voice.

— Inhalants, which includes gasoline, aerosols, anesthetic gas, gold paint. They produce slurred speech, impaired judgment and confusion.

— Marijuana. This drug can relax inhibitions, shorten attention span and make you paranoid. I was surprised to hear Corn say that the active ingredient used in marijuana in the 1960s was 3 percent and now it’s more than 40 percent.

To make it easy to review all the drugs he talked about, Corn also distributed a handy notecard from the Washington State Patrol with the Drug Recognition Uniform guide for the abovementioned drugs.

Corn wrapped up his two-hour talk by showing videos – some disturbing – of people who were experiencing some of the effects drugs he talked about.

His last video showed the deadly results of an alcohol-related crash of rookie Seattle Police officer Joselito Alvarez Barber, 26, who died in 2006 when the patrol car he was driving was broadsided at 80 mph by a woman driving an SUV who had four warrants, including a DUI warrant.

Corn said the video tribute to Barber and his sacrifice reminded him of why he does his job and the importance of it.


Next week: Our class will learn about police office procedures and critical incidents.

Kitsap County Sheriff's Office Deputy Rob Corn. Photo Josh Farley/Kitsap Sun
Deputy Rob Corn of the
Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office.
Photo Josh Farley/Kitsap Sun



About Ethan Fowler

Ethan Fowler has more than 20 years of journalism experience with 19 years of daily and weekly newspaper experience covering news, features and sports, as well as being an editor for 14 of those years. He has won several writing awards over the years in Washington state, Virginia, Texas and Georgia, including award-winning investigative journalism. Fowler was paid by the Review & Herald Publishing Association in 2009 to co-author a book, "Brushed Back: The Story of Trevor Bullock," with his wife. The book details the real life of a top minor league pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies organization and his Christian faith. "Brushed Back" has sold more than 2,000 copies since its release.