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Activists say police provided them drugs

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: May 3, 2012 - 6:08 PM

Updated at 6:01 p.m.

UPDATE: Lt. Eric Roeske said Thursday afternoon there “there’s been no evidence or no information that has been presented to us that would substantiate any of the allegations.”

He said Sgt. Riccardo Munoz, who administers the program, told him is against policy and procedure for police to offer people drugs. “To his knowledge none of that activity has taken place,” Roeske said.

Roeske’s statement did not appear to rule out the possibility that officers could have acted independently. He noted that the video did not explicitly name officers that allegedly provided the drugs.

Roeske added that no official complaint has been filed in the matter.

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A number of Occupy Minnesota activists are accusing outstate law enforcement officers of providing them with illicit drugs as part of a police training exercise at a facility in Richfield.

The allegations, which are documented in a 35-minute YouTube video, surfaced at a Minneapolis City Council meeting on Wednesday regarding a resolution to ban overnight use of plazas. The video focuses on people who were picked up at Peavey Plaza on Nicollet Mall.

"We’re aware of the video and the allegations made by individuals in the video and we’re looking into it," said Lt. Eric Roeske, a spokesman for the Minnesota State Patrol.

The video shows police from several different juristictions, including Kanabec County and Chisago County, persuading young people to get in their cruisers. There is no footage of officers offering them drugs, though activists make that claim several times in interviews.

Under the Drug Recognition Evaluator program, administered by the Minnesota State Patrol, police learn to identify people who are under the influence of drugs. Roeske said the typical procedure is to find people who are already intoxicated, but the activists allege that police gave them drugs and later ran tests on them at a Department of Transportation facility in Richfield.

“They gave me a full bag of weed," Forest Olivier said during Council testimony Wednesday. "And they gave me a pipe to smoke it out of. And they just took us out to – I forgot the name of the airfield – but its somewhere in Richfield, out near the bus line. 66th and Cedar. And they let us smoke it on the sand hills where the dirt pits were."

Olivier said police told him they were trying to test people for "signs" of intoxication, such as dilated pupils and smell. He added that they gave him a urine test.

“I am going to follow up on the allegations that were made here today," Minneapolis police inspector Kris Arneson told the Council Wednesday, adding that "the program that I know is not how it's described."

Council Member Cam Gordon called the testimony "disturbing." He wrote in an online posting that a mother called him Wednesday to report a similar story of police giving her son illegal drugs.

"I cannot see how this program, practiced how it apparently is being practiced, can be considered ethical or in the public interest," Gordon wrote.

Photo: Screengrab from YouTube video shows Forest Olivier getting in Kanabec County cruiser.

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