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Cowtown Cracks Down on Drugs

By D Magazine |

HERE’S YET ANOTHer difference between Dallas and Fort Worth: Out west, they’re stricter when it comes to drug use among city employees. In early May. Fort Worth Municipal Judge Francine Lyles tested positive for marijuana in a random drug test. Despite a later negative test, the Municipal Court Advisory Committee did not recommend Judge Lyles for another term.

Fort Worth gives random drug tests to about 70 city employees each month (not including city council members); approximately 7 percent of those tested fail. The employee is put on probation, given time for the drug to pass from the body’s system, then tested again; if he or she fails twice, that employee is normally fired.

The city of Dallas, by contrast, administers preliminary drug and alcohol tests to new employees and those who work in what the city calls “safety sensitive” positions- including police and fire department employees, security personnel, anyone who drives a city vehicle or personal vehicle for city business and those who work with or near motorized equipment. Random drug tests continue for those employees. The city also reserves the right to test anyone reasonably suspected of drug use. Because judges, city council members and other city officials are not considered safety sensitive, they’re not tested.

Following the flap over Judge Lyles, Fort Worth city councilman and perennial maverick Chuck Silcox revived his proposal that council members be drug-tested, to no avail. Going a step further, a bill was filed last year in the Texas legislature that would have required all elected officials–and candidates for office-to take a drug test. The bill never made it to the floor.