The Daily Banter

MEMBERS ONLY: Are Cops on Steroids a Contributing Factor in Excessive Force Cases?

It kind of makes sense, in a twisted sort of way. If your life was on the line every time you stepped foot into your office, and if there was a regimen of drugs you could take to intimidate or perhaps overpower those who were trying to kill you, wouldn’t you be tempted to take those drugs? Honestly, I’d probably have to think about it for a second before quitting the job altogether. Either way, this appears to be the rationale behind a troubling upswing in the use of anabolic steroids in American police departments. Unlike professional sports and bodybuilding where steroids are commonly used to enhance performance in pursuit of more entertainment-oriented endeavors, police officers have been turning to testosterone, human growth hormone and other steroids in order to appear more physically imposing, and also, more importantly, to have a better shot at subduing a criminal suspect.

Back in 2008, Police Chief Magazine, published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, wrote:

Although the traditional reason for the use of AASs [anabolic-androgenic steroids] is to improve athletic performance, AASs also appeal to officers wanting a tactical edge or an intimidating appearance. Unlike with other forms of drug abuse, steroid users do not take their drug recreationally; on the contrary, some state they need these drugs in order to do their job effectively or improve their “job performance.” From street officers who consider themselves vulnerable to bigger, more aggressive criminals to special-assignment officers who are regularly tested for their physical abilities, officers are turning to performance-enhancing drugs such as AASs and HGH as a shortcut to improved performance.

Of course, there are not insignificant problems here, beginning with the fact that steroids are controlled substances (HGH isn’t a controlled substance, but it often included in the chemical cocktail) and, since the passage of the Steroid Control Act of 1990, the possession of such drugs is a felony. That’s probably the most clearly defined problem with illegal steroid possession — the law. While there are legitimate and beneficial medical uses for testosterone replacement and steroid use, they’re notoriously acquired abused in order to enhance physical strength far beyond mortal men.

What’s not so clear, however…. CONTINUE READING