DRE drug scandal: No criminal charges for alleged dope-distributing officers

The now-suspended DRE program involved hauling high Peavey Plaza protesters to the suburbs for "testing."
The now-suspended DRE program involved hauling high Peavey Plaza protesters to the suburbs for "testing."

Nick Otterson, a state trooper from Hutchinson, has been under criminal investigation since May, when a colleague of his came forward to report he'd seen Otterson give an Occupy protester drugs.

-- Sgt. Rick Munoz, DRE program boss, is pretty much the biggest jerk ever
-- Police did indeed give Occupiers free pot, new evidence suggests; DRE program suspended
-- Minnesota police giving Peavey Plaza Occupy-ers drugs as part of impairment study, report says [VIDEO]

Otterson participated in the state patrol's Drug Recognition Expert training, a program intended to help officers better understand and predict the behavior of messed-up people when they're pulled over. But that training, obviously, wasn't supposed to involve facilitating messed-up-ness.

Today, the Hennepin County Attorney's office announced that no charges will be filed against Otterson or any other officer allegedly involved in the DRE drug scandal. A press release says prosecutors concluded they had "insufficient evidence."

"There simply was insufficient evidence for us to file criminal charges," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says in the release. "The people making the allegations gave differing accounts of what happened, their accounts were contradicted by other evidence, and there was no substantial evidence to corroborate any of the allegations."

The release provides some details of the investigation into Otterson:

In the case of the one officer who said he saw another officer provide marijuana to a test subject, there were numerous inconsistencies between his version and the version from the Occupy MN member who allegedly received the marijuana. Another Occupy MN member came forward and said that the main complainant's version was untrue and that he was in it for the notoriety.

In addition, the officer delayed coming forward and failed to preserve the alleged substance. As a result, there was no corroboration that the substance was marijuana and no way to prove a specific amount - both of which are essential to filing criminal charges.

The officer didn't preserve the "alleged substance"? Hmm...

Though no charges will be filed, Freeman and other prosecutors made some recommendations to the state patrol in hopes that the DRE program won't be such an embarrassment going forward.

The recommendations include improving communication of program guidelines to officers, enhancing coordination with local law enforcement, increasing field supervision of the student officers, and an immediate internal review of the entire program.

Law enforcement officers reviewing themselves? We know how that movie ends.

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