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Massachusetts’ police oversight commission entered new territory in recent weeks when it suspended an officer accused of using the psychedelic drug LSD, a change for a board that until now had only suspended police facing felony criminal charges.
The Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Commission, in its role as a regulatory body for hundreds of individual police departments, has suspended the state-issued policing certifications of more than 40 officers since it began exercising the power around the beginning of the year.
In a notice posted on its website last week, the commission announced the suspension of former Lenox Police Officer Blake Poore.
Citing “credible information” it received, the commission said Poore had “possibly engaged in conduct involving use of an illegal controlled substance, specifically lysergic acid diethylamide (more commonly known as the hallucinogen LSD) and has demonstrated disregard for his own safety and that of others while serving as a law enforcement officer.”
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The POST Commission, which was created by a 2020 police reform law, is required to suspend cops charged with felonies.
Unlike the dozens of officers suspended before him, Poore does not face suspension because of an arrest or indictment on a criminal charge. The suspension order delivered to him in September cited an open-ended provision allowing an officer’s suspension pending an investigation if it would be “in the best interest of the health, safety or welfare of the public.”
The commission provided no further detail on what led to the suspension.
The order gave no indication that Poore was accused of using an illicit substance on the job or that he faced any criminal counts.
Poore, who has resigned from the Lenox Police Department, declined offers from MassLive to discuss the situation on the record.
Lenox Police Chief Stephen E. O’Brien would only confirm that Poore had resigned from the department. A POST Commission spokesperson said the board could not comment beyond the information listed in the suspension order.
More about LSD
Also commonly known as acid, LSD is a powerful psychedelic drug with potent hallucinogenic effects.
The drug has been illegal since the 1960s and has a “high potential for abuse,” according to the Drug Enforcement Agency. Though LSD and other psychedelics are federally classified as having no accepted medical use, research has also explored their potential application in safe and therapeutic settings for treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and similar conditions.
Such treatments are not yet approved by federal regulators.
About a year from now, Massachusetts voters may have the option to decriminalize and regulate the use of natural psychedelic substances, such as psilocybin mushrooms, at the state level. Colorado and Oregon each have approved similar measures in recent years.
Several communities across Massachusetts — Cambridge, Somerville and Northampton among them — have also asked their local police not to enforce bans on natural psychedelic substances. Though individual cities do not have the power to decriminalize a drug, local leaders can urge their police to deprioritize the enforcement of certain drug laws.
Beginning early this year, the POST Commission has suspended the state-issued policing licenses of officers facing a broad range of criminal charges, from sexual assault to bribery.
Those officers are barred from working in law enforcement while suspended. If they are found guilty in their criminal cases, the commission is required to revoke the officers’ certifications.
To date, the commission has decertified six police officers. Not all faced criminal charges.
John Donnelly, a former Woburn police officer, was accused of participating in the white nationalist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. He accepted a voluntary decertification by the commission and did not admit to the allegations.
Darren Senecal, who formerly worked for the Mount Wachusett Community College Police Department, was decertified for falsifying police reports and other documents, according to a POST decision dated Sept. 14.
The POST Commission will investigate Poore’s case and ultimately decide whether he should keep his license to work in law enforcement.
A decertified officer is banned from future work for a police or sheriff’s department in Massachusetts. Their name is also added to a national registry of decertified cops, potentially preventing future police work in other states.