By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — One resident is pushing the town to get stricter about background checks for drugs and alcohol for new employees.
Mike Gill offered a simple petition to Town Council, asking the town to put a policy in place to make sure all workers are screened prior to taking a job with the town, establishing an alcohol- and drug-free workplace for all town employees.
It’s not the first time Gill has challenged the town’s drug-testing policy — or lack thereof.
Last month, during a process to approve a new three-year union contract between the town and Teamster Local No. 633, including Public Works staff, Gill asked why there was no policy was in place for all town workers.
Some Public Works staff with commercial driving :licenses fall under Department of Transportation rules when it comes to drug and alcohol testing policies.
Gill wants to see more.
“I was befuddled that, with all the rules and regulations in the town of Derry, there isn’t a random drug-testing policy in place,” he said.
He researched other towns in the area and found many with more drug testing rules in place than Derry.
Gill said he decided to move forward with his petition to see if the Town Council would consider putting more rules on the books.
Town Administrator John Anderson said the town’s police department already has strict rules in place when it’s time to bring on new officers and recruits.
“It’s more stringent than any department under the leadership of our chief of 41 years,” he said. “To say that we don’t do that, we clearly do do that now.”
Anderson said a typical employment call for police may attract 150 or more applicants. Seventy-five might then actually show up in person for pre-screening and testing, with about 30 then passing a strict agility test, polygraph and drug screening.
As for other town employees, Anderson said, there are the routine background criminal checks required and other policies in place if there are reasonable suspicions about other behavior.
Human Resources Director Larry Budreau will be invited to come to a future Town Council meeting, Anderson said, to give the public an overview of the town’s policy when it comes to drug and alcohol testing for certain potential employees.
For Gill, it’s a chance to see a policy put in place that would cover all town workers.
“The Council can take it up for further discussion or they can do nothing,” he said. “My next step would then be to go get 100 signatures on the petition. I would just like to see something happen.”