Steroid use among police officers is on the rise. by Creative Commons
While athletes frequ ently come up in the news for using illegal steroids to improve their performance, they aren't the only ones guilty of trying to bulk up illegally. A number of recent investigations have found that steroid use is prevalent among many law enforcement agencies as well. For example, an investigation by The Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ, found that 248 police officers and 53 firefighters received steroids from an area physician.
Why has this issue only become relevant in recent years? Part of the problem may be an increased emphasis on strength and fitness within the profession. In addition, drug testing is not common among law enforcement agencies due to union protection. While some departments may have random testing for street drugs such as cocaine and marijuana, very few test for steroids. This makes it relatively easy for an officer to start using steroids, especially in response to increased pressures to use them.
There are a number of serious problems that result from steroid use by law enforcement officers.
1. Brutality -- Steroids can cause sudden mood changes and aggression, often called "roid rage,' due to excessive testosterone in the body. When used by police officers, this aggression can be taken out on others while on duty. A number of police brutality cases across the country and the lawsuits that follow have been connected with officers who have used steroids. However, not all of these cases can prove steroid use. For example, an 84-year-old man in Florida broke his neck because he was thrown to the ground by a police officer. When his lawyer requested that the officer be tested for steroid use, the department denied the request, stating that it would violate the officer's rights. (AOL News)
2. Drug Dealing -- In addition to many cases of officers using steroids, there have been cases of officers dealing them as well. In March 2010, Tony Macik, a 39-year-old police officer from South Bend, IN, was caught dealing illegal steroids and faced a jail sentence as a result. Interestingly, Macik had already pleaded guilty to assault charges a few years earlier, which again points to a possible connection between steroid use and brutality. If steroid use among law enforcement officials leads them to become dealers, the problem extends beyond the police station into the community. (AOL News)
3. Taxes -- Another negative consequence of steroid use among law officials is the burden it puts on taxpayers. Many officers fill pay for steroids with their government health benefits, which are supported by taxpayers. Two new reforms in New Jersey seek to lessen the burden on taxpayers. The first require sthat law enforcement departments include steroids in the substances they randomly test for. In addition, officers who fill prescriptions for steroids must undergo evaluations to ensure that they are fit for duty. (NJ.com)
Jesse Harwell is a former private investigator who now owns and manages the site Master of Homeland Security. It is a resource for students looking to earn a Master's Degree in Homeland Security.