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Maine officials reconsider hiring standards after CO caught trafficking drugs

The officer had disclosed past drug use, including abuse of prescription drugs, LSD and cocaine, on his application

By Matt Byrne
Portland Press Herald

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Maine — A Cumberland County corrections officer who was arrested in October on drug trafficking charges had disclosed extensive prior drug use when he sought the job and told the county he was in recovery from drug abuse, according to portions of his job application.

Davis Glazener, 23, faces one count of drug trafficking and is on unpaid leave from his job at the county jail. There’s no evidence he distributed drugs inside the jail, but he may have sold drugs to former inmates, Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce said in a recent interview.

“We’re looking into the possibility that some of his contacts in the jail were using him outside of the jail after they got released,” said Joyce. “I have not heard anything that he was mingling the two, if you will, by bringing the drugs into the jail.”

Glazener’s past drug use raises questions about how jail administrators evaluate how much past drug use is too much for new corrections officers, who are routinely put in contact with drugs and drug users.

Although each sheriff’s department has its own hiring and screening process, jail administrators interviewed said they were reluctant to draw many bright-line rules when it comes to drug use, and prefer to evaluate applicants on a case-by-case basis.

The information about Glazener’s past drug use disclosures comes from part of his application for employment, which was obtained through a Freedom of Access Act request.

When he applied to become a corrections officer in 2016, Glazener, then 20, admitted to having used cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms, the prescription stimulant Adderall, marijuana, the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, and prescription pain medication that was not prescribed to him. He also admitted to having sold marijuana “a couple of times” in the past.

The drug use took place when Glazener was 17 or 18 years old and when he was living in California, according to Joyce and the documents. He has no criminal history in Maine.

“I think (his drug use) was higher than usual, across the board, yes, but if you look at what he used, he was a kid out in California,” Joyce said. “He was out in one rehab out there. He was in one rehabilitation here when he was going to college,” Joyce said. “He met our policy.”

He is on unpaid administrative leave until the conclusion of an internal investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Glazener was arrested after police received a tip that he was trafficking drugs. An unnamed source of information helped the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency set up a controlled purchase of cocaine from Glazener, who arranged to leave the bag of drugs in his South Portland mailbox for the buyer. Police arrested Glazener when he showed up to meet the buyer later in the day to receive the cash payment for the cocaine.

When police searched his car, they found seven 30-milligram OxyContin pills, and a search of his apartment yielded nearly 25 grams of cocaine, 29 Gabapentin pills that were not in a prescription bottle, plastic packaging and a Glock 9mm handgun and ammunition, according to court documents. Officers also found marijuana and marijuana concentrate.

Glazener faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

After his arrest, Glazener was released on $5,000 cash bail. His attorney, Leonard Sharon, said immediately after the arrest that Glazener completed an in-patient rehabilitation program in Connecticut and is currently living in a sober home in Portland, “where he will continue to deal with his treatment for addiction.”

Regarding Glazener’s past drug use, Sharon deferred comment, and said he has not reviewed Glazener’s job application in which he disclosed his history.

Because the charge is a felony, Glazener must still face indictment by the Cumberland County grand jury. He is due back in court for a dispositional conference in January.

Joyce said the drug policy of the sheriff’s office is unwritten but longstanding. No applicants will be considered if they admit to drug use within the last six months, or if they had ever used needles to take illegal drugs – an indicator of more invasive, intensive drug use, Joyce said.

Although Glazener’s prior use was more extensive than what many other successful applicants disclose, Joyce said, he appeared to have turned his life around. He was in school, and held a job as a lifeguard at the Portland YMCA before his classes began, and claimed not to have used drugs in two years, and never admitted to injecting anything.

One of his references was William McClaran, who at the time taught criminal justice at Southern Maine Community College and is a former chief of police in Portland. McClaran, who is now retired from teaching, said in a recent interview that he does not remember Glazener.

Another reference was the chief operating officer for Foundation House, the sober home and rehab company in Portland that Glazener attended. Until Glazener’s arrest, Foundation House featured Glazener in a slide show on its homepage. Patrick Babcock, who now operates Foundation House, did not return a call for comment.

Sheriff Joyce, meanwhile, said his hiring managers cannot be asked to foresee the future.

“The reality is it’s easy to go back and say, whoa, this guy had a lot of red flags,” Joyce said. “But all of this happened when he was a teenager. In this particular case we took a chance, and he really messed it up big time.”

Like police officers, corrections officers are trained at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in Vassalboro, and are required to meet a litany of standards to be admitted to the training program.

Corrections applicants who are admitted to the state academy must be free of convictions for murder or Class A, B, or C crimes, which are felonies. They also must not have engaged in any conduct as adults that falls into the same felony categories, regardless of whether they were prosecuted. Confirming that applicants have no convictions and have not engaged in felony conduct is the responsibility of the hiring agency, such as the counties that operate Maine jails.

In this case, Cumberland County’s hiring process, background investigation and polygraph examination did not raise any red flags, according to Joyce and the Maine Criminal Justice Academy director, John Rogers.

Questions about drug use are a standard feature of correctional job applications, according to several sheriff’s offices that responded to questions.

But rare among the corrections field are hard-and-fast policies defining how much prior drug use is too much. Sheriff’s department administrators interviewed said that their decisions are largely based on individual circumstances.

Some counties draw sharper boundaries than others.

Still, judging from comments by other jail administrators, Glazener’s amount of prior drug use appears to fall outside the norm.

Oxford County Jail Administrator Dana Dillingham said he takes applications on a case-by-case basis and wouldn’t rule out hiring someone with a deep history of drug use. But, he said, he would be hard-pressed to advance such an applicant over others with less drug history.

“I’d have a lot more explaining to do, and I’d have to have a lot more reasons to hire someone with that kind of use in the last two, three, four, five years,” he said.

At the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn, which houses about 150 inmates on average and employs about 55 corrections officers, Chief Sheriff’s Deputy William Gagne said his process, like at other agencies, hinges on knowing the details. How frequent was the drug use? How long ago was it? What has happened in someone’s life since then? Does an applicant’s age match his maturity level?

“We try to screen it and look at it, look at their morals, their ethics, their maturity level,” Gagne said. “Just because someone used a harder drug, we won’t necessarily disqualify them. Was it three months ago, or 15 years ago?”

In York County, the rule of thumb is that applicants will not be considered if they admit to using any illegal substance within the past 12 months, said Sheriff William L. King Jr.

No agency that responded to questions had a firm policy on hiring people in long-term recovery.