Getting paid to drink free alcohol on campus? Sounds like a dream right? It kind of was. On Thursday, Dec. 15, a police organization hosted a class on campus to teach police officers the effects alcohol has on the body. Unlike traditional classes, this one wasn’t lecture style and the “teacher,” so to say, was actually a student volunteer. UNF student and political science senior Jordan Fuqua, in participating in the class, got to drink with a roomful of curious cops. He sent Spinnaker a first-hand account of what it was like:
The IPTM (Institute of Police Technology and Management) conducts a class for police officers, and I was selected for this trial/experiment this semester. They bring in students who are over the age of 21 to drink to excess and allow them and the police officers to learn about the effects alcohol has on the body.
First, I had to find the classroom this was being held in, which was an accomplishment on it’s own. I was in a room full of police officers from all over the state of Florida and the United States with no actual understanding of what I was supposed to be doing.
I sat down in a chair in the back of the classroom labeled “police DWI training.” I had no idea what was going to happen within the next few hours, but I knew it would be interesting. As I sat down and got comfortable, I learned that I would have a counterpart, also named Jordan. This gave me a lot of hope. After about 20 minutes passed, I found out my counterpart was a no-show and it was just me and a bunch of police officers versus a couple bottles of liquor.
When they were ready to start I had to sign a couple waivers with the basic stuff: I won’t drink and drive and I won’t operate heavy machinery within the next 10-12 hours. Easy stuff that I wouldn’t be doing anyway. But there was one very odd clause — I wasn’t allowed to go to a bar within 12 hours of leaving the facility.
After I signed all the paperwork, my baseline BAC (blood alcohol content) was taken, I blew a solid 0.00. Everyone gathered around because that’s when the festivities started. I was offered vodka cranberries or a rum and coke. I chose the rum and coke and the officers all gathered around the small bar cart, excited to pour my drinks.
Everyone was assigned a role — one officer poured, one brought the red Solo cup with carefully measured alcohol to me at the foldable chair and table. I was in charge of pouring a mixer into the red Solo cup so I could make a drink that wasn’t bad.
I started off strong, killing the first drink in about 10 minutes. I was ready for my second one. As I was drinking my second one, the effects of not being able to eat before the experiment started to kick in. I realized how much of an uphill battle this would be.
I felt myself starting to get drunk at the bottom of the second drink. I started to loosen up and to talk to the officers in the room. They were extremely nice to me, making it feel like they wanted my input on this, since they wanted to learn about the effects of alcohol.
When I finished the first half of the trial and it came time for my second breathalyzer, I blew a .074, which is legally under the limit but there was no way I would have been able to drive a car. They told me stories about how many people they’ve pulled over with a BAC similar to me and that gave me a sinking feeling in my heart. With as many ways to get home without driving yourself, I could never understand driving drunk.
The second half of the lab went without incident. We talked while I drank at a fairly steady but heavy pace. After a while it got pretty hard to think and speak, but I powered through it. At the end of the time limit, they asked me to run the standard field sobriety tests. Not for pass or fail, but to teach all the officers what to look for when conducting the tests.
Surprisingly, I failed the easier of the tests, but the harder tests like balancing on one foot and walking in a straight line I passed with flying colors. At the end of the experiment I had a BAC of .095 which seemed somewhat low for the amount that I had drank, but it was definitely eye opening to put the numbers behind my drinking and to learn more about my limits.
I had eight drinks total, and was at the station for about 4 hours. Overall, it was an interesting, yet unusual, experience. It wasn’t that weird being drunk in front of cops… but it was weird being the only black dude in a room full of white police officers.
***Correction: A previous version of this story stated a UNF student got drunk with UNFPD. That was incorrect — the student was drinking as part of a class hosted by the Institute of Police Technology and Management. UNFPD did not host this class.
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