A sheriff’s office in Missouri received an overwhelming response after requesting alcohol drinkers to help update officers’ training with field sobriety tests.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday it needed three to four casual drinkers per day from Tuesday to Thursday to participate in its “wet lab.” The program, which the department said is not new, is intended to be “fun and interesting” for participants while allowing officers to become certified in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST).
Participants were provided alcohol and sent to socialize in a room away from law enforcement. After an hour or two, the drinkers entered a training room and completed a series of field sobriety tests conducted by different officers.
The officers noted their observations during the tests and asked participants suspected of being over the limit to submit a breath sample to determine their level of intoxication.
When the program was over, participants were taken home by officers or another sober driver.
The department said the program has been a standard for law enforcement certification for decades, but participants typically come from internal communications. This year, the program occurred during the daytime, which was reportedly difficult to schedule and ultimately led officers to ask for volunteers.
Prospective volunteers had to contact the department to be vetted and allowed to participate. While not giving an exact number, the sheriff’s office said it received more than enough volunteer interest to cover multiple backup plans if needed.
“Some people handle alcohol well, and others not so much,” the JCSO said. “This is a fun experience, but it’s also a professional environment where officers are being evaluated by trained professionals.”
Participants were offered wine, beer or liquor. The department joked it would not be providing “Pappy Van Winkle” alcohol but said “cheap wine” and “rail liquor” would not be served, adding that the volunteers are appreciated more than that.
The department also said taxpayer funds were not used to purchase the alcohol for the participants.
People with alcohol-related arrests, pending criminal cases, or who are on prescription medication(s) that cannot mix with alcohol were not allowed to participate. Volunteers were also required to have normal balance with no standing or walking limitations.