Friday, October 5, 2018

Police Sergeant recognized for outstanding work

By Matt Pascarella

Last month, Sergeant Raymond Williams of the Windham Police Department was recognized by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy for his 25+ years of service as a certified Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). There were seven officers, including Sergeant Williams, recognized in Maine. Each officer was recognized for their exceptional work in evaluating 100 or more drug impaired drivers during their career. Sergeant Williams has evaluated 130 impaired drivers.

Sergeant Raymond Williams
A DRE is a police officer trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs other than, or in addition to, alcohol.

In the late 1980s, standardized field sobriety tests to test for alcohol were brought into Maine. These tests were based off standardized practices that all officers across the country were required to use. The tests determine the top three ways to obtain information regarding a person’s impairment. This included the horizontal eye test (involuntary jerks of the eyes), the walk and turn test as well as the standing on one leg test.

Although these standardized tests work well to identify drunk driving, it was discovered that many who were impaired drivers were not impaired by alcohol, and therefore could not be arrested.
As a result, the International Chiefs of Police Association and the Bureau of Highway Safety brought the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program into the state of Maine in the early 1990s, incorporating instructors who had been through the DRE program.

Sergeant Williams knew how frustrating it was to have contact with a person who was clearly under the influence of something, but either had no alcohol or not enough alcohol in their system to be a crime. There was no mechanism to prosecute such people in the late 1980s/early 1990s. So, when the DRE program came to the State of Maine, the Legislature had to add wording into the regulations that stated it was against the law to be under the influence of alcohol and/or any other substance.

“I saw the end result of people operating under the influence,” Williams said. “I wanted to do what I could to get those people off the streets.”

Sergeant Williams became a certified DRE through the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. This included being certified on the standardized field sobriety testing, taking the drug evaluation classification program as well as participation in a two-week DRE school. The program included mock and/or actual evaluations and written testing. To be DRE certified, you also need to be knowledgeable about various types of drugs.

Sergeant Williams, who grew up in Cumberland, went to Southern Maine Community College and got an associate degree. After college, he worked in Windham as a reserve police officer in the summer of 1985 and was hired full time in the summer of 1986. He attended the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in 1987.

Sergeant Williams has been on the department for 33 years and would like to pass on his knowledge until retirement. He manages a firearms program and began the motorcycle unit in 1998 which is still in use today.

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