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Deputy talks about drug recognition

Bauler addresses MOCSY members about training to recognize the influence of drugs in people during law enforcement contacts

January 13, 2019
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Emmet County Sheriff Deputy Tom Bauler spoke at the monthly meeting of MOCSY (Making Optimal Choices for Successful Youth) at Mother Nature's restaurant Thursday.

Bauler was chosen for a law enforcement officer school from a pool of 300 applicants this year. The purpose of the school is to certify drug recognition experts across the state law enforcement agencies to serve in the field, in jails and as expert witnesses in court.

Bauler tested each day on the drug matrix chart and learned what signs to look for with the influence of each category of drug on a subject.

"We don't have to name the specific drug; various symptoms surface for each category of drug whether it's stimulant, cannabis or narcotics," Bauler said.

The class included a field trip. Officers traveled to work in Phoenix, Ariz. at the Maricopa County Jail. The Maricopa County Jail has a volume of 300-400 individuals booked through its jail each hour, even in the middle of the afternoon, Bauler said.

Subjects presenting with possible influence of drugs were given a choice, Bauler said.

"Do you want to go to jail, or do you want to be part of this?" was the question, according to Bauler.

"Afterward there was exciting paperwork to do," Bauler said.

Bauler said he is grateful for the state-funded program and for the opportunity to gain the knowledge and apply it to law enforcement in Emmet County and the surrounding area.

"I learned a lot and I'm grateful [Sheriff Mike Martens] let me go. I'm confident I can pull someone over and determine what drugs they are on by looking at them in different light settings to see the size of their pupils, check blood pressure, temperature, and other measures," Bauler said.

Bauler's knowledge has already been put to use as he's been called into two situations in 2019.

There are a few drug recognition experts in the area: Bauler in Emmet County, while Kossuth and Dickinson Counties each have one and there is one State Trooper out of Spencer and one on the Spencer Police Department.

Sheriff Martens said a condition of the state-paid training is that the drug recognition experts are available to conduct examinations for other agencies.

A drug recognition expert is able to see issues below the surface. A person who presents with signs of having taken a lot of methamphetamine, for example, may not have those symptoms hours later by the time Bauler might be called in. However, the person will still have the clinical signs like rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.

"The DRE can say, 'we need to get them to the hospital,' because we're trained to recognize the signs of heavy consumption and the start of a serious health issue,'" Bauler said.

After serving as DRE for two years, Bauler will return to class for an eight-hour recertification and after the recertification would qualify to be an instructor for future hopeful DREs.

Bauler already serves as an instructor at the law enforcement academy as well as coordinator of the reserve deputies.

Thursday was National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.



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