Officer to be honored for drug enforcement

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 MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Patrolman Len Larkin only has to look at a person’s eyes or behavior in trying to determine if he or she is under the influence of drugs.

He uses his drug recognition skills for traffic enforcement. Larkin is in sixth year with the Middle Township Police Department.

If a person is believed to be under the influence of something other than alcohol, then Larkin would be brought in.

“It’s to help enforce the DWI laws is why the DRE [Drug Recognition Expert] program is in effect,” Larkin said.

Today, June 14, he was set to be recognized for his efforts in arresting impaired drivers.  Mothers Against Drunk Driving was to host the ceremony at Middlesex County College.

The Middle Township Police Department nominated him for the distinction, which came as a surprise for Larkin.

“I was honored. It’s not a bad thing to be recognized for something good that you do,” he said. “There are a lot of good officers that could easily have been nominated other than myself.”

Police Chief Chris Leusner praised Larkin.

“We are very proud of Officer Larkin,” he said. “In police work, it is very difficult to measure what you can prevent, but I am very confident that the enforcement of driving while intoxicated does prevent injuries and save lives.”

In 2011, Larkin took part in two dozen incidents involving driving while intoxicated with alcohol and Drug Recognition Expert evaluations.

“I wasn’t the arresting officer in all of them, but I was involved in the case in some manner,” he said.

This year Larkin has been involved some Drug Recognition Expert evaluations and DWI incidents but he couldn't put his finger on how many. The DRE program can only be for traffic enforcement, he said.

Becoming a Drug Recognition Expert meant taking classes and training in Gloucester and Camden counties. He received the certification in 2010, and people have to be recertified every two years, Larkin said.

 “It’s the hardest training I’ve ever had in regards to police training,” he said. “It’s very extensive.”

He had to familiarize himself with the medical field, including taking blood pressure.

But Larkin called the Drug Recognition Expert program “good training.”

“You can use it [the Drug Recognition Expert program], bits and pieces of it, in your daily interaction with people,” he said.

The Middle Township Police officer also said, “It helps with your safety on the street, taking in the entire environment and how people might act.”

The Middle Township Police also recommended Larkin for the Drug Recognition Evaluation training.

He said he is “pretty proactive” with regard to traffic enforcement.

“I guess they felt I have a well-written report and so they recommended me if I wanted to take the class. I rarely say no to a challenge,” he said.

The Middle Township Police Department has other Drug Recognition Experts: patrolman David Hagan and Lt. Bill Adams.

Although he loves every area of law enforcement, Larkin said he especially has an affinity for traffic enforcement. 

“I wouldn’t say it’s my main focus. But it is part of the job. I enjoy it,” he said.

Before becoming a Middle Township Police officer more than five years ago, Larkin worked for the state Department of Corrections.

“I felt this would be a better avenue for me other than working as a correction officer,” Larkin said. “I enjoyed that job. But I like to move around. I don’t like to be contained in one spot.”

Larkin is a Lower Township native and went to Lower Cape May Regional School District. He took classes at Ocean County College and Atlantic Cape Community College.

Larkin lives in Cape May County.

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