Deputy Colin Zeumer certified as Drug Recognition Expert

Kathleen McGwin

Marquette County Sheriff’s Office now has three Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) since Deputy Colin Zeumer recently qualified after completing both the academic training as well as 60 hours of field training with certified DRE instructors from across Wisconsin and assistance from officers with the City of Milwaukee Police Department.

The Drug Recognition Expert training teaches officers to “recognize the signs and symptoms of impairment from the seven categories of drugs by utilizing a twelve-step evaluation process.  The training provides instruction in psychophysical testing, clinical indicators, and pupil size/reaction to drug use, pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature and the pharmacology of drugs/use,” states the Wisconsin Department of Transportation announcement of the training classes.

There are two phases of the training including 72 hours of academic training with three written exams and five written quizzes.  Students must achieve 80% proficiency.  The next training phase is the field certification where students conduct a minimum of 12 drug influence evaluations while under the supervision of a DRE instructor.  They must attain a 75% toxicological confirmation rate, pass a final exam and obtain written endorsement of two certified DRE instructors.

Colin Zeumer has been with the Marquette County Sherriff’s office since 2014 when he started in corrections.  He moved to the patrol division in 2016.  Before he came to Marquette County, he worked for the Endeavor Police Department starting in 2011 and moved to the Montello Police Department in 2013.

“I always had a desire to work in law enforcement,” Zeumer said in a recent interview.  “I worked with computers first and then realized I could marry the two fields, so I made the move into law enforcement.”

Zeumer described the intense field training to achieve DRE certification.  Working with a certified DRE instructor from various agencies from across the state, he used a twelve-step process to identify one or more of seven categories of drugs that a person might be using.  These tests were done on real people suspected of using drugs.  His evaluation was then confirmed by a urine test.  

“The field training requires that you do twelve evaluations and be exposed to at least four categories of drug use,” said Zeumer.

The three DRE certified officers in Marquette County are called out to assist officers who have arrested someone for impaired driving and it is believed the subject is impaired by a substance other than or in addition to alcohol.  The 12 step process is used to gather additional evidence to help determine whether the impairment may be due to an injury, illness or medical complication or if it is drug related.  If the impairment is believed to be drug related, the DRE can offer an opinion as to which category or categories of drug(s) is most likely the cause of the impairment.  Evidence gathered is then entered into a national database.  DRE expertise could actually save a life.

“Someone may have medical issues,” said Zeumer, “or need immediate treatment for drug use.  Sometimes symptoms could seem like drug use but actually be other medical problems.   This training helps evaluate that.”

One of the main goals of this initiative is to prevent impaired driving or operating while drugged.  The Marquette County Sheriff’s Office made 16 OWD arrests in 2019, 35 in 2020 and 21 in 2021.  Nationwide, impaired driving arrests for both alcohol and for drugs are rising. 

In 2020, an article in the Wisconsin Examiner said, “With alcohol, a breathalyzer test proves evidence of legal intoxication.   One of the best ways to secure solid evidence to show whether a person’s driving was impaired or not by drugs at the time they were behind the wheel is to have a Drug Recognition Expert trained officer on the scene.” 

The article went on to say that the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene’s number of drug tests other than alcohol that they conduct doubled from 2014 to 2019. 

“There are over 300 Drug Recognition Experts in the State of Wisconsin.  Three of them are with the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff Joe Konrath, “Deputies Brad Wendt, Austin Sukowatey and now Colin Zeumer.   We are proud to have Colin as our latest expert.”

Captain Les Crandall, Deputy Colin Zeumer, Sheriff Joe Konrath and Chief Deputy Scott Johnston. Zeumer recently received his Drug Recognition Expert Certification.