A passion for solving drug cases in the local community

Dawn Rye | Writer

A Drug Recognition Expert is a law enforcement officer trained to identify people driving impaired by drugs other than, or in addition to alcohol. Recently, Turner County deputy Presley Helm completed the program that follows procedures called Drug Influence Evaluation to determine what drugs are impairing the driver. 

Helm said a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) allows him to evaluate individuals believed to be under the influence of drugs and operating a vehicle. He can assist with DUI and possible paraphernalia investigation.

“I have multiple tools and tests to use to conduct a DRE evaluation to determine which drug category a person may be under the influence of,” stated Helm.

To become a DRE, an officer first has to have a certain amount of DUI arrests or drug-related DUI arrests. Once the requirement is met, a letter of recommendation is needed from the sheriff, states attorney’s office and a certified DRE reference. He explained that after being accepted, he had to attend a two-week training course. During the classroom training, he had to pass multiple written and practical exams. After passing the classroom training, he had to travel to Sacramento, Calif., to complete 12 evaluations on individuals that had been arrested by the California Highway Patrol. Helm said in this portion, he needed to maintain an 80 percent success rate when determining what drugs the individual was under the influence of.

As a DRE, Helm looks for multiple general, clinical and psychoactive indicators. These indicators range from the individual’s overall behavior to taking blood pressures, body temp, pulse, pupil size and the pupil’s reaction to light. 

He said a DRE becomes certified to give opinions in a court system and as a DRE, he can be called in as an expert witness when it comes to the realm of someone being under the influence of drugs and what drug categories usually do to people under the influence.

Helm stated he has a passion for growing in his department and a responsibility as a deputy to provide the best service to the community that he can. 

“I know as working the field there was a lot of drug cases within our local communities and saw the need that had to be filled and took the initiative to do so along with the backing of my Sheriff, States Attorney and fellow deputies,” he commented. 

He continued, “I always had a natural passion for drug cases when working as a deputy and now I can take it a step further for the local community with this training.”

Helm is most excited about assisting Turning County and other local agencies with their DUI cases, drug cases and educating law enforcement when dealing with drugs. 

His goal as a DRE is to better assist the other deputies with their DUI cases and assist in general drug cases the county may encounter during his time here. He also plans on helping further by setting up programs with the SRO on educating the youth about the impact drugs can have on a person.

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