12 officers probed in steroid case

William Hermann
The Arizona Republic
Jul. 22, 2007 12:00 AM

At least 12 Phoenix police officers are under investigation as part of a federal probe into the criminal use of anabolic steroids, a department commander said Saturday.

The use of the steroids, a controlled substance, for non-legitimate medical reasons is both a violation of department policy and the law.

The investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration apparently centers on Valley physicians who may be illegally dispensing or prescribing the anabolic steroids.

Some of the patients, including police officers, got swept up in it, according to Phoenix police Cmdr. Chris Crockett.

Crockett said that to his knowledge, the DEA probe has also turned up names of officers from other Valley police departments.

He did not, however, know which other agencies might be involved.

Attempts to reach the DEA for comment were unsuccessful Saturday.

Crockett, commander of the department's Public Affairs Bureau, said that he did not have the names of the Phoenix officers involved in the investigation.

No officers charged
He said none of the officers has "been charged with anything yet, and as I understand it they are still on duty."

Anabolic steroids are a controlled substance in the United States and many other countries.

Steroids have been widely used by body builders for years because of the drug's ability to increase the growth of tissue, especially muscle.

Phoenix police officers may not use anabolic steroids unless they have a legitimate medical reason, according to department policy.

Police recruits are asked on their application form if they have used various drugs, including heroin, methamphetamines and steroids.

Violations can bring about disciplinary measures ranging from suspensions to termination.

Doctors have been prosecuted nationwide for handing out prescriptions for steroids to people who have no legitimate medical need for them but simply want to build muscle mass.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said Saturday he knew about the steroid investigation but said he did not know details.

"I've been briefed on this by (police) management, and the department is conducting its own investigation," Gordon said. "I'm confident we'll take appropriate action."

'Ahead of other agencies'
Crockett said that, distressing as it might be for the department to be facing the problem of improper steroid use by officers, Phoenix "is to my knowledge way ahead of other agencies in being proactive on steroid use."

"I spoke with the commander in charge of our professional standards bureau. He said no other agency routinely random-samples officers for steroid use. Only Phoenix."

Crockett said that concern about officer steroid use was great enough that about one year ago the random test that is administered to officers for drug use was modified to test for steroids.

Several officers have tested positive for steroids in the random tests, Crockett said, but he wasn't sure how many.

He said he's aware of one officer who just this week was placed on 40 hours' suspension from duty for using steroids. "That 40 hours was the recommendation of the Discipline Review Board, and Chief (Jack) Harris concurred," Crockett said.

Crockett said that there are concerns about officers using steroids that go beyond possibly using a controlled substance illegally.

He said that while he is no authority on the subject of "roid rage" - the uncontrolled anger often associated with those who abuse anabolic steroids - "obviously, anybody who would not be able to act in a controlled manner is something we would be concerned about."

"I know there have been stories of people using steroids and doing some pretty bad things," he said.