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Area law enforcement receive Field Sobriety Test training

Volunteers help create real-life scenarios

LEWISTOWN – “Have you had anything to drink?” was a phrase heard often during the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing training held at the Rec Park Community Center this week. Law enforcement officers from departments across Mifflin County received instruction in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing during a three-day training course. The objective of the course was to teach officers how to detect impaired drivers, recognize signs of impairment, and determine whether or not an arrest would be made in similar real-life scenarios.

Part of the training involved volunteers which were given controlled amounts of alcohol so students could simulate a traffic stop and administer a field sobriety test. Volunteers were given measured doses of alcoholic beverages in a controlled environment to obtain a breath alcohol concentration between 0.08% and 0.12%. Then, officers taking the course, administer a series of tests to determine if the subjects are impaired. The three main tests administered to a person believed to be driving under the influence are horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), the walk-and-turn, and the one-leg stand test. According to the Lewistown Police Department these tests have been scientifically validated and utilized by law enforcement to identify impaired drivers for over forty years.

The course is designed to teach officers how to administer the three main tests that comprise the Standardized Field Sobriety Testing and how to evaluate a subject’s performance for clues of impairment. “The students here use them (volunteers) as live test subjects to run them through some of the different tests. Not only so that they have practice administering these tests but also so that they can confirm that these tests are reliable tools used to determine whether or not somebody is impaired.” said Officer Matthew Lynch of the Lewistown Police Department.

In a statement by the Lewistown Police Department on the Facebook page “The Lewistown Police Department is excited to be able to host this training after a majority of law enforcement training has been put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This training gives officers valuable tools to safely and correctly identify impaired drivers and to remove them from our roadways. A portion of the class is also designated to learning how to successfully arrest and prosecute impaired drivers which serves as the greatest deterrence in keeping impaired drivers off our roadways. The department would like to thank the Mifflin County District Attorney Office for sponsoring this training and providing funding for manuals and supplies and the Lewistown Borough for providing the training facility. The department would also like to thank the PA State Police and State College Police Department who provided assistance in presenting this class. This course has provided a significant resource to our county in removing impaired drivers from our streets and our communities.”

Several municipal and county agencies from Mifflin County participated in the course, including the Lewistown Police Department, Mifflin County Regional Police Department, Armagh Township Police Department, Mifflin County Sheriff’s Office and Mifflin County Probation Department. According to the Lewistown Police Department, fourteen students, including three students from the State College Police Department, successfully completed the course demonstrating proficiency in administering Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and completing a comprehensive written exam.

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