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Excelius t1_jahzdcb wrote

It's been well known for years that the field tests that police use to detect illegal drugs are error prone, a lot of innocent people have been arrested and charged because of false positives from these tests.

Washington Post - Why are police departments still using drug field tests? > In 2016, a report by Pro Publica and the New York Times found widespread false positives and user errors by cops when administering the most popular tests. Precise error rates are hard to calculate, because some test results can be affected by variables such as weather conditions, user error and lighting conditions. Some studies have shown error rates ranging from 1 in 5 false positives to 1 in 3. But even those disturbing figures can get worse if you create an incentive for a police officer to want a positive result. In 2009, the Marijuana Policy Project used the KN Reagent field test on 42 substances that weren’t marijuana. They were able to get false positives on 70 percent of them. > >The ProPublica report also found that the most commonly used tests didn’t include warnings about the high false-positive rate, despite a 2000 guideline from the Justice Department to do so. Surprisingly, the report found that more than half of those wrongly charged after a false positive actually pleaded guilty, an indication of how the threat of serious jail time can persuade innocent people to falsely confess.

This has been known for literally decades now.


goplantagarden t1_jai1zp6 wrote

I wouldn't rule out outright lying. The police know the media vigorously pursues any crime story, unfounded or not, and factual follow up may or may not happen. And a lot of cops LOVE to grandstand and get that super-hero treatment on TV.

US media generally sucks, but I do love ProPublica's in-depth reporting. They really care about getting their facts correct.


internet_friends t1_jaj1ljp wrote

It is a form of lying. The device they're using gives a false positive rate of 20-33%. In addition, it appears that when the police gave the report, the neglected to mention how MUCH fentanyl was found and what the lethal dose is. This is all information that the police have known for years and have been advised against using this type of device. The fact that they still use it and want to grandstand with these headlines IS lying. If these types of practices were used in any setting other than a police one they would face jail time and a hefty fine. What they're doing is a form of falsifying test results which is illegal in the state of Pennsylvania and many lab directors have gone to jail and have been forced to pay fines for this in the past. The cops should not be able to make these statements and the media needs to due their diligence in fact-checking these reports. I fact-checked this article when it came out and figured out that the device they used gave a high rate of false positives by googling it for 5 minutes. We as a nation deserve more out of our police and out of our journalists. This news story is unacceptable all around.


NorwaySpruce t1_jaj0ewx wrote

It's like the dudes in Texas who are being brought up on felony charges for a D8 cartridge because the police won't actually test it to see what it is. They don't have any jurisdiction over this stuff so they're lying to people to get them scared about it


Anonymous_Otters t1_jajy03s wrote

Police drug tests aren't for identifying drug, they're for justifying injustice.


heili t1_jai78dr wrote

You can get those things to test positive without ever even opening them or adding anything to them.


HeyZuesHChrist t1_jakc790 wrote

It’s right up there with “I can search your vehicle because my dog told me you have drugs.”

Fucking insanity.