Mass. legal groups decry controversial hair drug test implicating black officers, urge Boston police to drop practice

A number of legal groups are calling for the Boston Police Department to discontinue a controversial hair drug test that they say has yielded disproportionately false positive findings for black officers and cost the city millions in legal fees, as reported by

Public records requests show the Boston Police Department spent more than $2.1 million on in legal fees associated with the hair test litigation through March 2019, according to a joint statement issued by the groups.

“At a time when the community is calling on (the city of Boston) to recommit to improving diversity, expending millions of scarce taxpayer dollars to continue defending this discriminatory test is unconscionable,” the statement says. “That is not even to mention other costs that are harder to quantify but equally disturbing: the harm to dedicated public servants when their careers are derailed and they are falsely branded as drug users, and the cost to public safety when highly qualified officers of color are unfairly removed from the force.”

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled against the practice recently in a case involving a Boston police officer who was denied a job because a strand of his hair tested positive for cocaine, according to the Boston Globe.

As a result of the litigation, payments to officers impacted by the hair test more has topped $1.7 million, the statement says. The tests are carried out by Psychemedics, based in Acton, Mass.

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