- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

BALTIMORE (AP) - Baltimore’s police commissioner said police applicants in the state do not have to be “altar boys” and thinks they shouldn’t be disqualified from joining the force if they had used marijuana more than three years ago.

Under the current standard of the Maryland Police Training Commission, applicants are disqualified from becoming officers if, during interviews, they admit to having used marijuana more than 20 times in their lives or five times since turning 21 years old.

But that standard, which dates from the 1970s, hurts local hiring efforts and is “inconsistent with where we are as a society,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis told The Baltimore Sun’s editorial board Thursday (https://bsun.md/2a5cof1 ).

“I don’t want to hire altar boys to be police officers necessarily,” Davis said. “I want people of good character, of good moral character, but I want people who have lived a life just like everybody else - a life not unlike the lives of the people who they are going to be interacting with every day.”

Davis is leading a committee to review the current standard, which he argues is hurting local hiring efforts as “the No. 1 disqualifier for police applicants in Baltimore.”

In recent years, Maryland and other states have decriminalized marijuana possession, and some have allowed its use.

Applicants must prove they are drug-free through urinalysis. Their past use of the drug, which would not show up in tests, is expected to be shared with recruiting officers during an interview.

In a letter Davis sent to the training commission, he said he wants the state to maintain a prohibition on marijuana use in the three years prior to application but eliminate the automatic disqualification for use before then.

Chuck Canterbury, president of the national Fraternal Order of Police union, said his organization has not taken a stance on any suggested revision of drug use policies. Still, he said when standards are diminished, that reflects in the caliber of officers.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, https://www.baltimoresun.com

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