In order for RCMP officers to perform the standard field sobriety test, they have to be properly trained on what the tests are, how to communicate, and what signs of impairment to look for. To receive proper training, they need real-life, impaired individuals to test learn from. As the dedicated public servants that we are, members of the griff took it upon ourselves to be those very individuals. We were plied with alcohol and sent on our way to poorly walk in a straight line.
The sobriety test workshops are held 24 times a year and are constantly looking for new volunteers, so if you’re interested in volunteering, here’s what the experience looks like — fair warning, it’s one of the oddest (but very fun) drinking experiences you may ever have.
The day starts at 10 a.m., and we all got to the RCMP headquarters either by bus, Uber, or designated driver because you’re not most definitely not allowed to drive after the day. Around 10:30 drinks start getting poured. You get to choose your alcohol ahead of time and pour your own mix in, but you don’t actually get to know how much you’re drinking as the alcohol is measured out according to your height, weight, and gender, and then the alcohol is handed to you blindly in a red solo cup.
The volunteers all had to entertain ourselves throughout the day, but it wasn’t a difficult task. There were two ladies at the table who weren’t griff staff members, but they quickly became part of our team and our new best friends — copious amounts of hard alcohol makes for fast friends is a saying, right?
We started by playing Sociables and had a grand time, and it may not surprise you that the challenge we were worst at involved math. One of our editors, Marina, became king of the game and had everyone who went against her wishes do push-ups, all to the overseeing RCMP officers’ bemusement.
We continued to drink until around 12:30 when lunch was brought in and our blood alcohol levels were taken with a breathalyzer test (we still didn’t get to know what it is or how much we’d had, the mid-day test was just to know how much more we were expected to drink in the afternoon). After lunch, more drinks were poured.
One of the non-griff volunteers was deeply concerned we wouldn’t be getting any more alcohol after lunch since she could hardly feel anything, yet after her third drink she was most definitely “feeling it,” considering she came up with my favourite explanation of feeling drunk to date, “my brain is moving, I like this feeling.”
We also knew which people weren’t drinking fast enough because our supervising RCMP officers would come by asking if we’re finished with a drink, ready for another, or telling us to start losing in Sociables. I must say, it’s rather odd having an RCMP officer encourage you to drink more, especially when the last RCMP-run program I was a part of was the D.A.R.E. program.
At around 1:30 they cut us off and brought in the officers who were being trained in the standard field sobriety test. Essentially we became lab rats. We were asked to watch pen caps while the officers analyzed our eye movements, walk in a straight line, and stand on one foot. We did this four to six times as the officers practiced conducting the test. At the end of the training, we were required to do another breathalyzer test.
The training officers were then asked to vote on whether or not they would arrest us based on the signs they noticed from conducting the standard field sobriety test — they didn’t get to know our breathalyzer findings, and had to make a guess purely based on the eye and movement tests. After their answers were taken, we all found out how much we’d had to drink and what our levels were. Every volunteer consumed at least seven ounces, and the highest amount was 12.
Overall, the day was a very entertaining experience, and makes for a fantastic story — consuming free alcohol for an entire day at an RCMP headquarters is not a typical day, that’s for sure. If this story has you interested in volunteering for the next workshop, send an email to RCMP.KTrainingTeam3-Kequipedeformationtrois.GRC@rcmp-grc.gc.ca to find out everything you need to know about how you can also get drunk with the RCMP — purely for educational purposes of course.