Roid Rage - No Good Reason

Beginning in the mid to late 1990’s and early 2000’s things began to change as the baby boomers became older. Department budgets increased, overtime pay, comp time, or vacations were allowed. Trends are for police departments to hire young officers...

Seem high? There are no empirical studies on the prevalence of AAS in law enforcement. The recent revelations that 248 police officers and firefighters from 53 agencies were tied to a Jersey City, N.J., physician gives some credence to Conte's estimate. The months-long investigation by The Star-Ledger of Newark also found that taxpayers often footed the bill for the drugs since many were prescribed.  “Cops' Use of Illegal AAS a 'Big Problem'” (AOL news December 26, 2010)

Phoenix Police department began random steroid testing in 2006. As of 2008 only 6 officers had tested positive for AAS.  However in 2007, the DEA had conducted an investigation netting 12 Phoenix employees for AAS.

Around the same time Dallas, Texas and Albuquerque, New Mexico had enacted polices also. Recently Portland Police Department and New Jersey departments have enacted random testing for AAS. With “roid rage” complaints, how long will it be until we have to look at drug testing after a use of force as we do a vehicle accident? There are drawbacks to testing. Its cost is three times that of normal drug testing. 

Why are officers turning to AAS?  Law enforcement has gradually changed into a no nonsense type of job.  Officers are encouraged by command staff to look good in uniform and in public.  There is a belief that a healthy officer is a better officer, which I totally agree with.  However, self-improvement must be accomplished without steroid enhancement.

Steroids have been banned in sports for many years.  They should be in law enforcement. The long term effects to officers’ bodies will not make it worth the trouble.  They may remain healthy for a few years but the effects will catch up to them.

Some side effects are high cholesterol levels, severe acne, thinning of the hair or baldness (officers with shaved heads at a young age), fluid retention, high blood pressure, liver problems, sexual disorders, severe mood swings, feelings of invincibility, depression, nervousness, hostility or aggression, and increased chances of injury. 

The most common are muscular injuries. With the buildup of muscles, the tendons cannot keep up with the strain.  This leads to tendon tears, tendon rupture, and overall weakening joints.  Knee blow-outs occur. The user will increase body mass over tasking the ligaments which are not enhanced by the AAS.  This leads to tears to the tendons requiring surgery for repair.  These injuries are common among officers who work out extensively.  On the job studies are not available for the injuries.

Heart damage is also a concern. AAS studies have shown that increase in fluid retention slows the conversion to corticosterone.  This is a contributing factor to hypertension in the body.  This leads to heart disease and can lead to an enlarged heart, which can cause sudden death.

These are just a few of the complications to taking AAS.   The prevention of the loss of one life is well worth the cost.  The prevention of one of these officers losing control on a perpetrator or a family member is of obvious value. Management must step up to the plate and begin random testing.  If the department is not willing, the government entity (municipality, county or state) or insurer must step in.  Officers with a problem need to research what they are doing to themselves and take appropriate action to stop the destruction of their bodies.  We all care.


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About The Author:

Randy Rider began his career with the Douglas County Sheriff office, Georgia in 1974. He received several promotions eventually to investigations. His areas of expertise are extensive having worked crimes from petty theft to murder. In 1983 he became employed with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice as an investigator, promoted to Principal Investigator. He eventually moved into the Internal Affairs Unit as an investigator and as a supervisor.

Rider was elected President of the National Internal Affairs Investigators Association in 2005 and stepped down in 2010 having served five years. He is currently the Chaplain of the organization.

He is employed with the Public Agency Training Council one of the largest police training organizations in the country. Rider travels the country teaching officers on internal investigations of corrections facilities and first line supervisors on investigations of citizen’s complaints. He has experience is police audits.

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