A member of D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier's inner circle said Thursday she recently was "put off work" after a visit to the Metropolitan Police Department's medical clinic, but insisted she was returned to duty after being cleared under the department's drug-testing policy.
Inspector Deirdre N. Porter, a 21-year veteran assigned to the Patrol Services and School Security Bureau, was "out of the office until further notice," according to her outgoing voice message, The Washington Times reported last week, after multiple high-ranking police officials said she was placed on non-contact status pending investigation of a failed drug screen.
Reached at her office Thursday, Inspector Porter declined to say what led to her temporary removal — or her return to work. "That's my personal business," she said. "I'm not telling you. I refuse to answer your questions."
Yet she went on to say she had been "cleared" of any drug violations and denied reports she was allowed to submit a second urine sample, which would depart from an MPD policy that requires follow-up drug testing on the original sample.
Inspector Porter also denied she had been placed on non-contact status, which would have stripped her of her gun, badge and all police powers, and insisted, "I am not under any misconduct investigation."
But in a subsequent email, Inspector Porter contradicted herself on the issue of a second urine sample: "I do not ever recall denying that a second sample was taken," she wrote. "In fact, that was another one of your questions that I did not answer."
Adding to the confusion, Chief Lanier's office has denied that Inspector Porter was allowed to submit a second urine sample, and it remains unclear when she was removed from her post or what, if any, drugs were involved.
On Monday, MPD spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump outlined the typical protocol for drug testing: "When a specimen is taken, it is divided into two parts. Part A is tested. If that test comes back as presumptive positive for illegal or illicit substances, then the member is called in to meet with a medical review officer to discuss the presence of the substance.
"If a valid explanation is not identified in the medical review officer interview, then Part B of the original sample is analyzed to verify the initial presumptive positive. Testing of Part B is more methodic and comprehensive," adding that if Part B comes back negative, no further action is taken. "If Part B comes back positive, then we have a positive drug sample and appropriate disciplinary action is taken."
Ms. Crump said the procedures "are always followed and never deviated from."
As to those procedures, Inspector Porter declined to say whether she was "put off work" before or after being interviewed by the medical review officer, or whether she was interviewed at all.
Questions about the MPD's use of urine samples in conducting drug testing date back decades. In 1987, in a letter to then-U.S. Attorney Joseph DiGenova, an attorney for a number of MPD officers warned of "irregularities" and "deliberate falsifications" within the department's drug-testing procedures.
In the letter, attorney Robert E. Deso said it appeared that drug-testing procedures had either been subverted to protect one and possibly more MPD officials from the results of positive urinalysis tests or to report positive results on others whose tests may not have been positive, causing them to lose their employment.
"If records have been falsified, false statements made or testing procedures subverted for gain (such as promotion), it is likely that criminal as well as ethical violations have been committed," he wrote.
MPD officials did not respond to questions about how many officers have been disciplined for drug use in recent years.
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