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Monday 17, Nov 2008

  Steroid abuse trend in the ranks troubles police chiefs

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fat-muscle-steroids-police-copsTheir job description may not state that they have to look lean and mean, but police officers know that to have that look is to have an advantage over the criminal elements. To some officers, anabolic steroids are a means to get that advantage.

However, those at the top echelon believe steroid abuse is causing too many negative repercussions, and thus the fight against the trend of steroid abuse.

At the recent International Association of Chiefs of Police conference held in San Diego, Phoenix police Cmdr. Kim Humphrey talked about the trend and the dangers of the anabolic steroid use. The Phoenix Police Department is considered to be the pioneer in steroid-testing program in the law enforcement. PPD updated its drug-testing policy in 2006 to include anabolic steroids.

During his talk at the conference, Humphrey said steroid abuse is now being practiced among officers and yet only a handful of departments are implementing test for the said compounds.

From the San Diego Union Tribune:

…top law enforcement brass around the country are learning that the implications of a police force on steroids are far more frightening, Phoenix police Cmdr. Kim Humphrey said.
Aggressive outbursts, excessive use of force, poor judgment and serious health problems have been associated with steroid abuse among officers. Not to mention the fact that the drug is illegal.

“It’s gone far beyond the sports field,” said Gary Green, a leading steroid researcher at UCLA’s Olympic testing laboratory and a consultant to Major League Baseball. “And it has big implications for law enforcement. This is someone who has a firearm, who is entrusted by the public. We certainly want them to be as healthy as they can be.”

The San Diego Police Department does not test for steroids in pre-employment screens or random drug tests, but officers could be tested if they are suspected of abusing steroids.
Bob Kanaski, San Diego assistant police chief, said steroid use was an issue in the department in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“I haven’t seen anything of that nature since then,” he said. “Which is surprising, too, because we are very close to Mexico, which is probably one of the largest providers of steroids.

“I think we’ve done pretty good education on what steroids can do – what they can do to your body and to your future,” Kanaski said.

Since PPD’s implementation of steroid testing in 2006, five Phoenix police officers and one firefighter recruit have tested positive for the prohibited compounds. And authorities believe the number of users is much higher, but it’s proving to be difficult to determine since officers sometimes resign when questioning or testing is imminent.

Disciplinary actions vary, ranging suspension to termination from the job.

“Clearly, doing the test is not designed to catch people,” said Humphrey in early October.
“It’s designed to be a deterrent,” he said. “It’s not like in a sport where you just say, ‘You can’t play anymore.’ This is a career. It’s their job.”

Saturday 31, May 2008

  Steroid use in law enforcement

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Police_steroidsAside from bodybuilding and other sporting field, anabolic steroids are popular in professions that require physical power and assertiveness like law enforcement.

Anabolic steroids can bulk up a user in immediate and impressive way. This is why they are being used by police officers and firefighters despite the possible legal and health risks. The legal risks involved have been recently amplified with the federal investigation on several law enforcement officers in Tennessee. To date, the probe has resulted to suspension and firing of police officers. Said investigation is still ongoing and now has expanded to involve several states across the country.

There is so much stigma attached to use of steroids in sports, and that emotion is heightened when applied to their use in law enforcement. The fact that these substances, which can cause aggressive and irrational behavior, are used by people who are supposed to uphold the law elicits stigma – and fear – among the public.

Despite the well-known fact that use of steroids can destroy one’s career, as well as the stigma that may be caused by their use, why do these individuals still avail of these drugs?

Gene Sanders, a former law enforcer and a veteran police psychologist in California, succinctly explains the motivation: “The thinking is that big is better than small, tough is better than weak.”

Unfortunately, such motivation is also what pushing criminals to use steroids. Yes, criminals, too, have tested the potentials of anabolic steroids. In countries like Norway, for instance, there are reports that criminals use substances that give them ‘feelings of invincibility’. In its capital Oslo, criminals are reportedly taking ‘torpedoes’, which are blends of steroids and amphetamines to induce psychopathic state.  However, it seems the use of ‘torpedoes’ is completely misrepresented.  It seems that drug users never even buy steroids to begin with, and the cocktails have no steroids in them – only meth and painkillers.

If this is the case, should officers be blamed or punished for using steroids that can make them more effective in carrying out their duties against criminals? Being bigger and stronger is also a safety net for these officers who are constantly faced with life-threatening situations.