The newly appointed chief of police in Albania, Gledis Nano, has announced that all officers will be required to undergo drug testing for the first time amid drug use concerns in the force.
The drug testing process will be applied to all local and central police directorates, beginning with 20 officers from Elbasan.
The current Regulation on the State Police stipulates that an individual cannot become an officer before first passing a drug test. After this initial test, however, officers are not required to undergo drug testing. This will be the first time the entire police force will undergo mass testing.
According to some, Nano’s new regime should have been instituted much earlier.
The head of Albania’s Police Union, Sadetin Fishta, says the tests are required by law and should have been rolled out already.
“The police regulation stipulates that for admission to the police, one of the criteria is a negative drug test result,” he explained, “but the law was never implemented until the Order of the Director of Police came out. The issue of the order is in accordance with the law, despite being issued late. It should have started with the entry into force of the State Police Regulation.”
In Albania, the use of drugs is not illegal. The cultivation, sale and transport of drugs is. Using drugs necessitates buying them first, meaning officers that form relationships with sellers are committing a crime.
In 2021 alone, several police officers have been arrested on drug charges. In May, an anti-drug specialist was arrested for distributing drugs. In June, an officers of a special police unit, “The Eagles,” was arrested for distributing drugs in the town of Saranda. Then, in August, an officer from the Department of Neutralization of Armed Elements was arrested for distributing cocaine in Albania’s capital city of Tirana.
A standard urine test can detect traces of drugs taken once in the preceding three days, among daily users between 10-15 days, and among heavy drug users up to 30 days. Hair follicle tests can show traces of drugs taken between 90 days and one year, depending on the location the hair is taken from.
The drug tests will be handled by Albanian medical firm Intermedica. The firm has long been awarded state concessions and tenders, including early authorization to conduct COVID-19 PCR tests.