Drug testing for police, firefighters in Holyoke

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A drug investigation led to the resignation of both a Holyoke police officer and firefighter. 22News discovered how the city plans to make sure this problem isn’t any larger internally.

City leaders certainly hope not, but they are taking precautions.

All Holyoke police officers and firefighters will be drug tested. This comes after a State police drug investigation led cops straight to a Holyoke firefighter who said a Holyoke police officer was also involved. Both the firefighter and police officer resigned.

“I believe the union bodies understand the necessity of it, they’re hard workers they want to do what’s right for the city of Holyoke and I don’t anticipate any push back,” said Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger.

Holyoke’s police union contract doesn’t allow for random drug testing, so you can either test no one or everyone. Some people we talked with told 22News it shouldn’t stop with fire and police, they say every city employee should be tested.

“They’re the people that we look up to and they have a certain job and I think I just think they have to be accountable just like everybody else,” said East Hartford’s Steven Bentley.

“I say yes and no, if they show a sign that they could possibly be doing drugs then they should be tested but people don’t look like they do drugs, shouldn’t be tested,” said Holyoke’s Robert Whitehurst.

Drug testing does cost taxpayers money. Chief Neiswanger told 22News it would cost around $10,000 drug test the entire department or about $85 per person.

The drug in question is Suboxone, it can help treat heroin addicts, or if you don’t have heroin in your system, it can be used to get high.

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