Naval Academy tests all for drugs Action taken in wake of arrest of two midshipmen

October 17, 1995|By KRIS ANTONELLI | KRIS ANTONELLI,SUN STAFF

All 4,000 Naval Academy midshipmen were tested for illegal drug use within 48 hours after Navy investigators caught two upperclassmen with LSD at a Glen Burnie motel Sunday, Navy officials said yesterday.

The testing was unprecedented in scope and swiftness.

"In the past, we have tested two companies a week randomly and half the brigade over a couple of days right after a leave period," said academy spokesman Capt. Tom Jurkowsky.

"While we have no reason at this point to believe more than the two are involved in this, we view this seriously. This is the reason other agencies look to us for guidance. This serves as a deterrent. The Navy's policy is zero tolerance."

Half the brigade was tested Sunday and the rest were tested yesterday.

Urine samples were collected in the bathrooms of Bancroft Hall, the midshipmen dormitory. They will be sent to several Navy labs and it will take several weeks to complete the tests.

Academy officials said the midshipmen in Sunday's incident -- a senior and a junior -- were caught buying LSD but have not been charged with any crime.

They are back at the Yard attending classes, according to academy sources.

Navy investigators arrested the midshipmen at the Holiday Inn in the 6300 block of Ritchie Highway shortly after midnight, a Navy source said. The source said Navy investigators were tipped off to the hotel by a "concerned" midshipman some time last week.

Captain Jurkowsky said investigators had identified a "small group of midshipmen who were potentially involved" in illegal drug use before the arrests.

The investigators at the hotel posed as drug dealers and sold the midshipmen LSD before arresting them, a Navy source said.

The investigation into the incident is continuing, Captain Jurkowsky said, and if the midshipmen are found guilty, they likely will be expelled from the school.

One midshipman was expelled last year after testing positive for drug use and a plebe who tested positive on Induction Day June 30 was expelled.

A lieutenant who tested positive during a random sampling earlier this year will appear before a hearing board in a few weeks, Captain Jurkowsky said.

When detectives from the Naval Criminal Investigation Services, an independent agency, complete their investigation into Sunday's incident, they will turn over their findings to academy superintendent Adm. Charles R. Larson who will recommended punishment or expulsion to the Secretary of the Navy.

"We are getting total cooperation from the superintendent to resolve this issue," said Special Agent Ron Benefield, a NCIS spokesman.

Drug prevention officials say the use of LSD has increased sharply in recent years.

According to a survey taken last year by the Maryland Department of Education, more than 13 percent of 12th grade students statewide had used LSD.

"It's kind of like a throwback to the '60s," said Michael Gimbel, executive director of Baltimore County's Office of Substance Abuse. "It's become very popular in high schools and in colleges throughout the Baltimore area."

"I think what happened at the Naval Academy is a real reflection of what's happening with their peers all over the country," Mr. Gimbel said.

"Just because it's the Naval Academy doesn't mean it's immune from what's going on all over the country."

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