Too Much Testosterone Already

Police - show of forceHave you ever wondered about the rise in police brutality in the past few decades? Believe it or not, steroids might be to blame.

Several recent investigations have found that steroid use is prevalent among many law enforcement agencies. When The Star-Ledger of Newark, NJ investigated the issue, they found that 248 police officers and 53 firefighters had received steroids from an area physician.

So why are police officers using steroids? Few professions will involve dealing with armed and dangerous people on a daily basis. Bulking up may be a way to feel more in control and powerful over criminals such as drug dealers, gang members, and violent con artists. This article from ABC News talks with a former police officer who discusses how prevalent steroids were in his department and how he took them to have “an edge” on criminals. The pressure to reach peak strength and fitness rivals within the profession likely rivals what many professional sports players face.

It doesn’t help that many departments aren’t doing much to discourage steroid used. While random testing for drugs like cocaine and marijuana may be common, such tests rarely include steroids. Officers have very few hurdles keeping them from using steroids in an effort to be stronger. But the use of such steroids can have some very negative effects on the community these officers are supposed to protect.

The worst effect by far is the use of brutality against the public while on duty. A common side effect of steroids is known as ‘roid rage,’ or aggression due to extra amounts of testosterone in the body. A number of police brutality cases around the U.S. have possible links to steroid use. One officer in Sound Bend, IN, who had been previously arrested because of assault, was caught and sentenced to jail for dealing steroids (AOL News).

But many cases of steroid use among law enforcement officials continue to be hidden. For example, an 84-year-old man in Florida was thrown to the ground by a police officer and had his neck broken as a result. When his lawyer requested the officer’s department to test him for steroids, the department refused to do so because it violated the officer’s rights under his union.

This system needs to change. Law enforcement departments need to recognize the use of steroids among their employees as a legitimate problem. Two new reforms in New Jersey are leading the way in legislation aimed at targeting the issue. One reform requires departments to randomly test for steroids, and another requires officers who fill prescriptions for steroids to undergo fitness evaluations ( But this is a far cry from the legislative reforms that need to be made in order for justice to be served.


Photo: licensed by on - © Brandon Laufenberg

Jesse Harwell

Jesse Harwell is a retired police detective 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.