MINNEAPOLIS, May 10 (UPI) -- Minnesota authorities are investigating claims law enforcement officers gave out marijuana to political activists for them to smoke.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating an unidentified Hutchinson city police officer, who remained on duty, for allegedly giving marijuana to Occupy Minneapolis protesters and state police Trooper Nick Otterson is on paid leave while his role in the alleged improper dispensing of marijuana is reviewed, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Thursday.
The probe came as state Public Safety Department officials shut own the Drug Recognition Evaluator program, which trains officers to recognize the signs of drug use under controlled conditions. Such training using volunteers who appear intoxicated is commonly practiced by law enforcement agencies across the country.
The investigation comes a week after Occupy Minneapolis protesters released a video alleging officers regularly offered activists marijuana, to which state officials initially responded by saying there was no evidence of criminal misconduct, the Star Tribune said.
At least three people who were solicited to participate in the program have come forward, alleging their participation was encouraged to go beyond the law.
Otterson is alleged to have encouraged volunteers to recreationally use marijuana in a way not useful for training purposes, the Star Tribune said.
One volunteer, Jay Roland, alleges Otterson, along with other officers, handed him a bag of marijuana and told him he could smoke as much as he wanted, the report said.
Roland told the Star Tribune the first time, officers took him to a warehouse where they had him perform balance and coordination tests. The second time, he was given pot and not asked to do any testing.
Occupy protester Forest Oliver testified at a Minneapolis City Council meeting, saying he had been asked to participate three times. Another Occupy protester, Michael Bounds, said in an interview Wednesday Hennepin County sheriff's deputies had offered him a bag of weed if he agreed to act as an informant for law enforcement.