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Strong at Any Cost
December 12, 2010 8:50 AM   Subscribe

On a rainy August morning in 2007, the news rippled through New Jersey’s law enforcement ranks, officer to officer, department to department. Joseph Colao was dead. Today, it’s clear Colao was more than just a doctor, friend or confidant to many of the officers. He was their supplier. The first in a three-part Star-Ledger series on the secret world of steroid use by law enforcement officers and firefighters.
posted by valkane (76 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is a not-very well kept secret in a lot of PDs, BTW. At least in the tri-state area.
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


No wonder they're all such enraged assholes.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:06 AM on December 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


I have to wonder if the, ah, endemic Italian-American culture of the region makes this far more prevalent in New Jersey than, say, Virginia.
posted by indubitable at 9:20 AM on December 12, 2010


Based on what I've seen occasionally come across my desk, this is happening in Ontario, Canada, too.
posted by analog at 9:26 AM on December 12, 2010


I have to wonder if the, ah, endemic Italian-American culture of the region makes this far more prevalent in New Jersey than, say, Virginia.

Well, those people of course don't have their heads screwed on tight.
posted by pracowity at 9:32 AM on December 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


The War on Drugs- "fighting fire with fire!"
posted by yeloson at 9:33 AM on December 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Not to derail the snark, but "Strong at Any Cost" should possibly be retitled "Strong at Taxpayers' Cost" in light of this paragraph from the linked article:

"In most cases, if not all, they used their government health plans to pay for the substances. Evidence gathered by The Star-Ledger suggests the total cost to taxpayers reaches into the millions of dollars."
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:37 AM on December 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


Wow.

Knowing the people who joined the PD out of high school back home, let me say I am, um, less than surprised.

But that was a really interesting piece beyond the big backned elephant in the room.
posted by PMdixon at 9:37 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm extremely happy this sort of news gets out there. Thanks, valkane.
posted by monkeymadness at 9:39 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder if the, ah, endemic Italian-American culture of the region makes this far more prevalent in New Jersey than, say, Virginia.

Cross-posted from the Nixon thread?
posted by joe lisboa at 9:46 AM on December 12, 2010 [25 favorites]


Digby has been talking a lot about steroids and police violence, especially the abusive use of tasers, for a long time — it's really nice to see this kind of in-depth investigation.
posted by enn at 9:49 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have to wonder if the, ah, endemic Italian-American culture of the region makes this far more prevalent in New Jersey than, say, Virginia.

I'm pretty sure that "be as freakishly strong as working out and science will let you" is not limited to Italian-Americans. But what do I know, I grew up in Bensonhurst.
posted by griphus at 9:52 AM on December 12, 2010


I'm not sure why they're doing this, except vanity. From what I know of being a beat cop, stamina is paramount, because you go running after suspects a lot. And the size produced by steroids doesn't necessarily translate into any usable strength gain -- if you have to wrassle with a suspect, again its going to be a question of stamina, and, moreover, when cops feel like things are getting out of control, they tend to go for their tasers or truncheons.

New Jersey taxpayers have been paying millions because some cops want to look like body builders. I suspect there is some sort of usage of this money that might actually have contributed to public safety.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:58 AM on December 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


I have to wonder if the, ah, endemic Italian-American culture of the region makes this far more prevalent in New Jersey than, say, Virginia.

In Virginia everyone just seethes with bottled-up non-steroidal rage.
posted by blucevalo at 10:02 AM on December 12, 2010


Gangsters with badges.
posted by empath at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


I mean how do you fix something like that? Police departments all over the country are full of criminals and nobody does anything about it.
posted by empath at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


New Jersey taxpayers have been paying millions because some cops want to look like body builders.

Seriously. At least pro athletes have the decency to pay out of their own pockets.
posted by palindromic at 10:06 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, Astro - Straight up hormones like Testosterone, HCG and HGH do help the body translate that into both strength and stamina. A man using hormone therapy is sort of like having a newly minted teenager in the house - I know this one from experience.
posted by empatterson at 10:09 AM on December 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would like more detail into the motivations of the officers... whether it's an internal tribal mentality or if the promotion and pay of the steroid-using officers were also 'enhanced'.
posted by nickrussell at 10:11 AM on December 12, 2010


From what i can gather, only one of the officers here was a competative body builder, so i dont think vanity is the prime motivatior.

Andecdotally, the guys i know who juice do so for quicker recovery between gym sessions. PEDs mean you can train harder and more frequently, which becomes a real issue as a man reaches his late 30s.

We want strong cops, right?
posted by the cuban at 10:16 AM on December 12, 2010


Meanest gang in town.

I'm a little surprised cops aren't subject to drug screens, but then again they always seem to have the best dope. Now I'm off to play with the unicorns and fluffy bunnies.
posted by warbaby at 10:19 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


All you have to do is take one look at the cops in my neck of the suburbs, Suffolk County, and you know they didn't get those forearms and biceps and necks from lifting weights.
I'd be happy if they got arrested for steroid abuse. We don't need fueled up cops who are incredibly snotty and too often seem on the edge of wanting to start a fight.
posted by etaoin at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live a long way from New Jersey, but one of the local police officers looks like he might be using steroids -- I know that it is possible to get that kind of growth and definition naturally, but not easily. Maybe we need to be testing them along with the bicycle racers.
posted by Forktine at 10:29 AM on December 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


We want strong cops, right?

No, we want cops who don't go into 'roid rage while armed with fists, boots, tasers, batons and firearms and allowed to use any of those things based on their discretion and rationale.
posted by griphus at 10:31 AM on December 12, 2010 [23 favorites]


"We want strong cops, right?"

Yes, but we also want cops who will think and behave rationally during stressful situations. It's called 'roid rage for a reason.
posted by killy willy at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jinx, griphus!
posted by killy willy at 10:33 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interesting to see the breakdown of Colao's clients by department. Some places have one guy on steroids (Colao's, anyway), while the numbers from other departments suggest that their usage is out in the open and institutional.
posted by domnit at 10:37 AM on December 12, 2010


That was also the name of my childhood dentist.
posted by clarknova at 10:38 AM on December 12, 2010


Roid rage is far overblown. I don't think that much detracts from the article's premise, agree with it or not, but it is the media's favorite scare story about steroids.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]



That was also the name of my childhood dentist.


I would never take my kids to someone named Roid Rage, DDS.
posted by Forktine at 10:43 AM on December 12, 2010 [17 favorites]


Roid rage is far overblown. I don't think that much detracts from the article's premise, agree with it or not, but it is the media's favorite scare story about steroids.
What can you tell us?

posted by etaoin at 10:43 AM on December 12, 2010


I would like more detail into the motivations of the officers... whether it's an internal tribal mentality or if the promotion and pay of the steroid-using officers were also 'enhanced'.

or a notion of what authority, respect, and power are based on....
posted by ennui.bz at 10:51 AM on December 12, 2010


This was on the DEA's radar back in 2004; in this comment in 2006 I linked to a peer-reviewed journal article on the subject, but it is no longer on line. I seem to remember it being from a group out of the University of Georgia and will try to hunt it down. This has been going on for a long time and isn't limited to any one area of the country.
posted by TedW at 10:51 AM on December 12, 2010


There's something quite sad about this, and the desire to judge on this one leaves me feeling a bit uneasy, but I'm not sure I can quite put my finger on why.

Maybe it's that the expectations we place on police are both high and broad. We expect them to be smart diplomatic problem solvers with a better than average working knowledge of the law and the sense to apply it wisely. But at the same time we want them to be Judge Dredd style tough guys who can smash a gangster down, or single handedly sort out a closing time riot at the local bar of ill repute. That's a big pair of shoes for any one bloke to fill. And if there seems to be an easy way to do it, then.. you know.. it's not really surprising that more than a few take that option.

The sad bit is that we then think that they should be held to a higher standard of account because of the positions they hold. We see their failure to live by the law as a pretty serious form of hypocrisy. And yet I have the sense that there's a wee bit of hypocrisy in our asking them to be and do the impossible for us, and yet still be subject to public outrage and humiliation when they can't.

Which is not to defend cops on roids doing evil shit or anything. Just saying I'm not comfortable with some of the reasons I'm thinking they might end up in that position, and some of the ways I'm thinking we might decide to treat them when they do.
posted by Ahab at 10:58 AM on December 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Roid rage is far overblown.

You know, there are a lot of things overblown by the media that I still do not want police involved in. Marijuana and LSD have all sorts of ridiculous urban legends surrounding them and trivial negative side-effects, but I'd rather not have police who are regularly getting stoned or tripping.

Call me an alarmist or a puritan, but once you have the right to shoot-to-kill at your discretion and the means to do so (not to mention the blue wall of silence in your defense) even the slightest risk of 'roid rage makes me uneasy.
posted by griphus at 11:00 AM on December 12, 2010 [12 favorites]


Your feeling of unease is not relevant.

And bringing LSD and hash into the argument is an irrelevance too.

PED use is pretty safe. This story is a classic media panic.
posted by the cuban at 11:07 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find the metafilter characterization of the police as jack booted thugs kind of ridiculous. Even if they do take steroids.
posted by fshgrl at 11:14 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


All you have to do is take one look at the cops in my neck of the suburbs, Suffolk County, and you know they didn't get those forearms and biceps and necks from lifting weights.

I don't think you quite understand how steroids work. Nothing builds muscle mass out of nothing. As Arnold said, "steroids don't do the work for you"; they just let you do the work, with more gain and less down time.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:15 AM on December 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know, there are a lot of things overblown by the media that I still do not want police involved in.

Well, hence the majority of my next sentence in that post. I don't think the police should be doing anything illegal because it undercuts their moral authority. But the incidents catalogued in the article are all classic behavior by the sort of thug types that wash into police departments with low recruiting standards. The way to clean up police departments is to recruit a better class of cops, not to blame the drugs for exactly the sort of crap the bad cops would do anyway. A HUGE number of people use steroids recreationally and there doesn't seem to be any mass outbreak of steroid-driven crime. Contrast that to the recurrent bad behavior in certain police departments, where the pool of cops behaving badly is much bigger than the pool of cops using steroids.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 11:17 AM on December 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Your feeling of unease is not relevant.

Read the part about Jersey City officer Victor Vargas.

This story is a classic media panic.

Damn media's so uptight about defrauding taxpayers.
posted by domnit at 11:22 AM on December 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Your feeling of unease is not relevant.

No, I'm pretty sure that when my taxes are paying for the illegal procurement and use of drugs which can make certain police officers more prone to assaulting those under their watch, my feeling of unease is perfectly relevant.

Look, I have no problem with The Police as an entity. The serve a very necessary function and a function that I would never think of doing. However, they also harbor and protect some mean, horrible sons-of-bitches who use the job as a way to hassle, harass and assault. Making it easier for them to acquire the means by which to do this -- the strength augmentation provided by steroid use, for instance -- is wrong. It's even worse when the steroids creates further aggression problems in those who already suffer from aggression problems. Yes, it's not an across-the-board problem, but filtering out the bastards and filtering out the means by which they become bigger bastards shouldn't be mutually exclusive.
posted by griphus at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


fhshgrl: some people live in areas where the cops will consistently treat them and people who look like them, with, erm, less than respect.

Good on ya if you have positive experiences with law enforcement. My "luck" has changed quite a bit since I got a haircut and dressed more conservatively, but not everybody has such control over their appearance.
posted by el io at 11:27 AM on December 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ahab, I appreciate your level of empathy from a strictly hypothetical point of view, but I live in Jersey City and teach art in a Newark Maximum Security Detention center so I unfortunately get to experience the joy of being up close and personal to a lot of these Police Officers, Prison Guards, and Fire Fighters. There is a pervasive attitude of aggression, authoritarianism, entitlement, disgust, loathing for the general public, and a constant undercurrent of seething among far too many of them.

Whether these personality traits are nature (people in these positions self-selecting) or nurture (the difficulty of the work creating deep cynicism) the last thing that should be thrown into that latter mix is steroids. In fairness I had some very good experiences with sensitive, caring detectives and police officers when I accompanied a crime victim to the hospital, but those experiences have been more than canceled out by the times I've had exchanges with lots of other officers (many of whose necks had all but disappeared) when serving as a witness to crimes in my neighborhood that, if they weren't outright dismissive, were downright threatening. It takes the entire community to help police the neighborhoods, and when jacked-up officers make members of the community feel like suspects, nuisances, or idiots who need to be shown who's boss all of the time, it certainly creates job security for those whose livelihoods depend on a high crime rate .

Leaving aside the brazen hypocrisy of the police force cracking down on the drug trade while indulging in it themselves, nothing about the sentence " But at the same time we want them to be Judge Dredd style tough guys who can smash a gangster down, or single handedly sort out a closing time riot at the local bar of ill repute." rings true to me as a citizen of the city this article investigates. We're not really a fan of police brutality here, though the force may believe otherwise.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:30 AM on December 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


Take the people who have anxiety, ptsd, anger issues, and give them steroids: you now have someone who may "rage" at the drop of a hat. Give steroids to a normal, well-adjusted person and they are just fine.
If some scientist took half a minute and did a quick anecdotal survey, they would find out steroids are actually "feel good" drugs. Any eighteen year old boy could probably tell you that, or at least any 30+ yr old man who remembers what their body felt like back than.

But, hey, woohooo dem steeroids are dangerous!
posted by P.o.B. at 11:34 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


We want strong cops, right?

Personally, I want smart cops more than anything else. I'm not blown away by a guy in uniform who looks like a cut-rate bodybuilder in blue. I'm blown away by a cop who can stay calm in the face of snotty provocation from dumbasses, who knows when to talk, when to stay quiet, when to use force, who can out-think and out-wit the bad guys.
posted by rodgerd at 11:36 AM on December 12, 2010 [18 favorites]


PED use is pretty safe. This story is a classic media panic.

I would like a lot more media panic about law enforcement officers breaking the law, please.
posted by rtha at 11:37 AM on December 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


with more gain and less down time

That's why athletes like them. They work in a multifactorial fashion.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:39 AM on December 12, 2010


Roid rage is far overblown. I don't think that much detracts from the article's premise, agree with it or not, but it is the media's favorite scare story about steroids.

Dunno about this - I personally have had to evacuate a building due to the steroid-induced psychosis of one single man (I won't confirm or deny whether he was in law enforcement).
posted by analog at 11:41 AM on December 12, 2010


let them have their steroids, but they should let people have pot
posted by nervousfritz at 11:46 AM on December 12, 2010


Take the people who have anxiety, ptsd, anger issues, and give them steroids: you now have someone who may "rage" at the drop of a hat. Give steroids to a normal, well-adjusted person and they are just fine......

Any idea what percentage of an urban police force working in a city with a high violent crime rate exhibits any (or all) of the above tendencies?

But, hey, woohooo dem steeroids are dangerous!

For this population, you are exactly right.

Also, tangentially related, here is an example of the mischievous fun our Jersey City officers get into when they are threatened with layoffs.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:50 AM on December 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Inspector.Gadget: "Roid rage is far overblown. I don't think that much detracts from the article's premise, agree with it or not, but it is the media's favorite scare story about steroids"

I just finished treating someone for steroid-induced mood changes that became full-blown psychosis with violent behavioural decompensations that was virtually impervious to anything except extremely high doses of old-school high-potency antipsychotics. And even after close to a month of treatment, that person remains delusional and quietly psychotic. So yeah, not everyone on steroids goes fucking insane (latent bipolar depression and schizotypia have a lot to do with it), but when they do, it's often faster and more impressive than many simple, primary psychotic disorders.
posted by meehawl at 11:51 AM on December 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


I've heard cops say that being (and appearing) physically strong is actually an important constraint against excess use of force. The thinking goes that people are more reluctant to step up the intensity of a confrontation against someone who looks tough, and cops who are big and strong have access to a graduated continuum of defenses and counter-moves, while physically weak cops have to go straight for the taser or gun.
posted by MattD at 11:52 AM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


For this population, you are exactly right.

I probably wouldn't disagree with that, but hyperbole and hysterics are not a good way to discuss problem.
posted by P.o.B. at 11:52 AM on December 12, 2010


Legalize all steroid use but keep it controlled and monitored. We need bulked-out cops lining up at methadone-style clinics for their weekly fix.
posted by benzenedream at 12:13 PM on December 12, 2010


Call me an alarmist or a puritan, but once you have the right to shoot-to-kill at your discretion and the means to do so (not to mention the blue wall of silence in your defense) even the slightest risk of 'roid rage makes me uneasy.

Absolutely! Anybody who enters into a profession where their lapses in judgment have potentially deadly consequences should be automatically held to a higher standard than the average worker. This is an unpopular view among my hard-partying med school classmates, but I'd really like to see all law enforcement, public transportation, and health care professionals (including medical students on clinical rotations) undergo frequent random drug testing.

Which is not to defend cops on roids doing evil shit or anything. Just saying I'm not comfortable with some of the reasons I'm thinking they might end up in that position, and some of the ways I'm thinking we might decide to treat them when they do

While routine random drug testing of medical professionals is not that common, there are some outstanding rehabilitation programs overseen by certain state medical licensure boards (Washington, for example). These offer "impaired" physicians inpatient and outpatient drug/alcohol treatment, extensive psychiatric services, and opportunities to re-enter their specialty under close supervision (or to train for another specialty with less access to narcotics, i.e. NOT anesthesiology) if treatment appears to be successful. Given the stress of law enforcement work and the public safety consequences when officers are impaired, these guys should have the same access to support and rehabilitation services (and retraining, when appropriate) that physicians enjoy.
posted by fernabelle at 12:16 PM on December 12, 2010 [12 favorites]



Anyone else find the following interesting:

While questions have been raised about some of Colao’s patients, many have been recognized for acts of heroism. Some have taken killers, carjackers and armed robbers off the streets. They have confiscated millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs intended for New Jersey neighborhoods. One talked a man out of committing suicide. Another saved the life of a choking infant.

Kind of like, yeah, but they do good things too.
Makes me wonder just what their job description is. I always thought "taking killers, carjackers and armed robbers off the streets", was what we were paying them to do.
posted by notreally at 12:39 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Notreally quoted this passage:

While questions have been raised about some of Colao’s patients, many have been recognized for acts of heroism. Some have taken killers, carjackers and armed robbers off the streets. They have confiscated millions of dollars worth of illegal drugs intended for New Jersey neighborhoods. One talked a man out of committing suicide. Another saved the life of a choking infant.

Yeah, if an officer hasn't done these sorts of things after a while on the job, he/she is not much of an officer.
posted by jayder at 12:50 PM on December 12, 2010


We expect them to be smart diplomatic problem solvers with a better than average working knowledge of the law and the sense to apply it wisely. But at the same time we want them to be Judge Dredd style tough guys who can smash a gangster down, or single handedly sort out a closing time riot at the local bar of ill repute.

As far as I can tell, THEY want to play Judge Dredd. I want them to be smart and observant. (And less racist.)

I've heard cops say that being (and appearing) physically strong is actually an important constraint against excess use of force. The thinking goes that people are more reluctant to step up the intensity of a confrontation against someone who looks tough, and cops who are big and strong have access to a graduated continuum of defenses and counter-moves, while physically weak cops have to go straight for the taser or gun.

I've heard this too, and I think it's an utterly idiotic stream of BS. Any big guy can tell you about the assumption that big dudes are always up for a fight. Anyone who knows anything about actual authority and respect knows that it's presence rather than size. I agree that it's weak cops who go for their weapon first, but I don't mean weak in muscle tone.
posted by desuetude at 1:07 PM on December 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


cops say that being (and appearing) physically strong is actually an important constraint against excess use of force

This probably explains why female officers are charged with using excessive force significantly more often than their male colleagues. Right?
posted by ryanrs at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


While questions have been raised about some of Colao’s patients, many have been recognized for acts of heroism.

Just a few good apples. Isolated incidents, I'm sure.

cops say that being (and appearing) physically strong is actually an important constraint against excess use of force

Wow, that statement isn't self-serving at all. What of the idea that having strength far in excess of what is required on the job will lead someone to overuse that strength whenever the situation presents itself? A strong guy will crank an arm further than a smaller guy, yet they have the same effectiveness.
posted by rhizome at 1:41 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a pervasive attitude of aggression, authoritarianism, entitlement, disgust, loathing for the general public, and a constant undercurrent of seething among far too many of them.

This is also my experience with law enforcement in the NJ/NY/CT area. I've had lots of bad experiences with cops. Much more than I've had good experiences. Now, that doesn't mean that there aren't good cops out there, or even that nasty cops are in the majority. Who knows? But I think it's wrong to write off people's bad experiences, and the bad reputations of police, as being some sort of smug, basless anti-police attitude.
posted by entropone at 1:43 PM on December 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just finished treating someone for steroid-induced mood changes that became full-blown psychosis with violent behavioural decompensations that was virtually impervious to anything except extremely high doses of old-school high-potency antipsychotics. And even after close to a month of treatment, that person remains delusional and quietly psychotic. So yeah, not everyone on steroids goes fucking insane (latent bipolar depression and schizotypia have a lot to do with it), but when they do, it's often faster and more impressive than many simple, primary psychotic disorders.

To be fair, that sounds like a landmine waiting to go off. In this instance steroids happened to be the stick said landmine was poked with.

I think it's incorrect to state that PEDs are completely safe, but I'd argue they're no less safe than many of the other ways people mess with their body chemistry. Like all illegal chems, you also have to deal with the very real possibility that the product you're acquiring is inferior, tainted, or something other than what you think you're buying. Also, a lot goes into how what is used -- and how it is used. Getting "value" out of a cycle of steroids is a science in and of itself; mitigating the side-effects of their use is another.

PED users need to do their homework; not every "steroid" is good for you. IIRC, Stanozlol is oen that a lot of fighters and pro-wrestlers get caught using; it's actually meant to be used on horses, and has horrendous effects on a persons joints over a long period of use.
posted by Dark Messiah at 2:03 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


People who think steroid use is not prevalent, near all pervasive among the NYPD should take a job for four or five years (as I did) that requires you to be in close contact with them on a regular basis.

People who do not think that 'roid rage is real should try taking some (as I did, for a legit medical condition). I am very, very lucky I wasn't fired and even arrested.

Sample size of one, make of it what you will.
posted by digitalprimate at 3:04 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It may be simplistic to hinge the argument on "roid rage," because it may just be "roid irritation," and still drug-induced. I think anything that could shorten a law enforcement officer's fuse is problematic due to the amount of power they have at their disposal.
posted by rhizome at 3:32 PM on December 12, 2010


I don't think the dismissal of 'roid rage' as a 'media panic' word is actually very viable in terms of bearing out the evidence. Far as I can tell, the research suggests that steroids induce the 'roid rage' (which is a short hand [yes, definitely seized upon by the media, sure] for a spectrum of behavioral responses to situational stimuli which have been examined, studied, and repeated in laboratory settings), becomes evident when a 'provocation', or 'particular stimuli' is administered (for example, a 'criminal' spitting on an officer, or shoving, or hitting or kicking, or deriding, or getting too close, being aggressive, etc,. [the 'goodness' or badness' of a suspected 'criminal' here being irrelevant, as we are specifically looking at steroid use in an officer, and how that alters their behavioral responses, not how bad some particular bad guy is])

This is particularly important;
Aggression in male rats receiving anabolic androgenic steroids: effects of social and environmental provocation.

Disclaimer; I am not meaning to make the 'all officers are bad guys' argument, it is however a highly stressful work environment, and there is no shortage of 'provoking' (no, this doesn't mean that people provoking a police officer is by definition in the wrong, it means that an officer being provoked is occuring, and [to borrow a metaphor from steroid use; stacking] each person doing some provocational behavior is likely not the first such situation in the day/week). It is important to keep ethical responsibilities in check, and to watch the watchmen, and thus, to critically examine trends which happen to spring up within the institutions of our states. you know who else was rumoured to have used steroids to get stronger officers?
posted by infinite intimation at 3:34 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


All you have to do is take one look at the cops in my neck of the suburbs, Suffolk County, and you know they didn't get those forearms and biceps and necks from lifting weights.

I've actually worked out in the basement of the NYPD 40th Precinct (S. Bronx) back in the early 90s—the basement was where the gym used to be. It was the darkest, nastiest, stankest exercise spot in all the South Bronx. But the cops that worked there were all huge. I remember I had to wear a vest whenever I was with an active unit (I was just a civilian from the NYDAs office), and the smallest vest they could find for me I was like an XXL. I was just swimming in the damned thing. There was no way to be subtle about it, like hiding it under a shirt or something. It felt like I was broadcasting to the world— HEY LOOK EVERYONE I AM WEARING A BULLETPROOF VEST.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:42 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is a spectrum of force, 80-90% of the power of said spectrum lies in the use of vocalizations, verbalizing what is needed of a suspect, using words to calm a suspect with a gun, using words is where the majority of the power an officer holds lies.

An officer is put in a position of weakness when they must resort to use of coercive force. An officer who's judgement is impaired, or impacted towards violent behavior in stressful situations is at a severe disadvantage. Anything which impacts, or detracts from an officers ability to calmly, rationally, and effectively communicate with suspects, criminals, or victims puts not only the individual officer in danger, but also their partners and fellow officers. This is as much about the safety of our public servants, the Police as it is about civilian safety.
posted by infinite intimation at 3:43 PM on December 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


... and after reading this, I think I may delay my hormone therapy a few more years yet again.
posted by adipocere at 6:12 PM on December 12, 2010


When your job is to enforce the law you should be held to its highest standard. Of the 248 all of the cops should be investigated and dismissed if it turns out they were breaking the law.
posted by caddis at 8:12 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would never have occurred to me that cops and medical workers, of all people, weren't randomly drug-tested on a regular basis. Meanwhile, you can't be a data-entry temp without one. WTF.
posted by emjaybee at 9:29 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It would never have occurred to me that cops and medical workers, of all people, weren't randomly drug-tested on a regular basis.

They may well be tested for things like marijuana, amphetamines, cocaine, opiates, and so on, but standard drug screens do not test for steroids (anabolic or otherwise). Some steroids are so close to naturally occurring hormones (some are naturally occurring hormones) that they are very hard to find, as is evidenced by the arms race between the WADA and various athletes.

And don't get me started on random drug tests in general; I will just say that unless you take into account the prevalence of drug use when administering and interpreting the tests, Bayes' Theorem leads to the possibilty that there will be more false positives than true positives; among many other problems with that approach.
posted by TedW at 5:14 AM on December 13, 2010


I have nothing to contribute to this discussion except the image of a 'roid-raging Barney Fife.

You're welcome.
posted by whuppy at 7:33 AM on December 13, 2010


"I think steroids are as American as apple pie."
-Gregg Valentino

A fascinating, illuminating documentary on the subject of steroids; how we feel about them, what do we know (and not know) about their health effects, what do we feel about people who use them (Cheaters!), does it matter if you're a professional sports player or a fighter pilot...

One of the more interesting subjects re: steroids I've come across is the subject of "'roid gut". HGH in particular causes the muscles like the intestines and heart and other organs to swell and hypertrophy along with the more visible muscles. This is why hypertrophied freaks body builders today tend to have bigger guts than a generation or two ago (according to people who follow this sort of thing). Look at the guts of 'Murrican Football linemen. They're some of the most juiced-up athletes out there, and they've mostly got big, ginormous guts. The massive volume of protein-drinks (and the calories they contain) is also considered part of the workout-gut. BFS also looks that this scam. Of course, all the models on the protein-shake labels are actually on steroids, not protein drinks.

I personally find steroids unappealing because:
-I strongly suspect that eventually research is going to show steroid use linked to joint pain and dysfunction. The muscles tend to develop faster than the tendons, ligaments, and bones when you're working out , especially if you're a juicer. This causes problems in the running community when new runners try to do too much too soon and the ligaments etc aren't given enough time to catch up with the faster-developing muscles. And bodybuilders tend to reek of menthol and lineament from the perpetually increasing strain on their joints.

Juiced-up power lifters tend towards the tubby side, and bodybuilders in competition have starved themselves down for the stage.

-Research is showing that strength is not all muscularity. In fact, nervous system function (i.e. how fast it fires) is as important, if not more so, than pure muscle size. A smaller man with a more efficient nervous system can generate more real-world strength than a much bigger man with juiced-up muscles but a less-efficient nervous system.

Bodybuilders are like purebred dogs: associated in peoples minds with strength and health, but the reality is the focus on appearance and looks has made them unnatural freaks filled with pain and dysfunction, and borderline divorced from the real-world activities the physical-shape was intended to take part in.

Jack LaLanne never used steroids or shit like that. Jack's mostly vegetarian.Lemme see one of these juiced-up freaks swim from Alcatraz to SF Marina like Jack. Won't even require them to pull any rowboats behind them or do it handcuffed.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:35 AM on December 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder if steroids make you more afraid of soap bubbles?
posted by eviemath at 8:20 AM on December 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would like more detail into the motivations of the officers... whether it's an internal tribal mentality or if the promotion and pay of the steroid-using officers were also 'enhanced'.

I believe it is sort of the tribal mentality, in that there is an increasing attitude among law enforcement, fire and EMS that combines "hero" with "they are out to get us". So the desire to live up to the hero fairytale combined with the desire to not be killed by The Horde leads to paranoia about not being strong enough.

So it is tribal from that perspective much moreso than simply we all do the same thing.
posted by gjc at 10:01 AM on December 13, 2010


And when you consider that being a rapper cop means being held accountable to very particular concepts of manhood, I don't think it's a big surprise that they're manifesting a particular form of craziness that involves huge muscles. And shrunken genitals.
-Jay Smooth
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:43 AM on December 15, 2010


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