DPS declines to send drug dog to Arizona Corporation Commission office - East Valley Tribune: Arizona

DPS declines to send drug dog to Arizona Corporation Commission office

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Posted: Friday, July 15, 2011 5:17 pm | Updated: 7:33 pm, Thu Aug 18, 2011.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety won’t send one of its drug-sniffing dogs to the Arizona Corporation Commission offices to look for more marijuana after a tiny quantity was found there earlier this month.

“Based on the investigation we’ve conducted, there’s not sufficient probable cause for us to go further with this,’’ said DPS spokesman Bart Graves. He also noted that the amount of marijuana recovered in a bathroom at the agency accessible only to commissioners and key staffers was too small to even weigh.

“I understand their position,’’ said commission Chairman Gary Pierce, who had made the request to DPS earlier this week.

But that may not be the end of the matter. Pierce said he is investigating the cost of having a private firm conduct a sweep of commissioners’ offices to look for a drugs — at least the offices of the three Republicans of the five-member panel who have consented to the search.

Pierce also said that he and Republicans Brenda Burns and Bob Stump, along with their policy advisers, took drug tests yesterday, paid for with commission funds, providing hair and urine samples. Pierce said the decision to include hair was because that test shows not just what is in someone’s system at the time of the test but what they have ingested in the last few months.

He promised to make the results of the tests of himself and his staff members public; it will be up to the other two to decide whether to follow suit.

The entire exercise stems from the fact that Capitol police were called to the commission after some change was found in the bathroom. In counting the change, some leaves, which DPS tests later determined to be marijuana, were found.

Pierce said it was important for Arizonans to know that the commissioners, who regulate utility rate, railroad safety and the sale of some securities, are not impaired when they make the decisions.

The push for drug-sniffing dogs and individual testing has drawn derision from Paul Newman, one of the two Democrats on the panel, who accused Pierce of “political hysteria’’ over the find.

Both Newman and Sandra Kennedy, the other Democrat on the commission, refused to consent to a search of their offices and those of their assistants, something a commission attorney said was legally necessary absent a search warrant. And the pair opted not to be tested.

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