When is it alright for a police officer to drink on the job?
Some might say never, but earlier this month off-duty Harford County Sheriff's Office deputies helped train school nurses on how to tell if students have been drinking—using themselves as test subjects.
The police drank various amounts of alcohol and nurses practiced conducting sobriety tests and taking medical measurements on them. The assessments included checking for involuntary eye movements as well as balance and coordination tests.
According to Lt. Carl Brooks, the officer who conducted the training, involuntary eye movement is an effective indicator of alcohol-related impairment; it's effective about 77 percent of the time.
Nurses won't be able to arrest students they catch drinking, but being able to identify an impaired individual is important for the safety of teens.
"This is not about enforcement, this is about health," said Mary Nasuta, nursing coordinator for the school system.
The one-day training session was held at Harford Community College and each participating test subject was provided a ride home.