"The thinking is that big is better than small, tough is better than weak,'' said Gene Sanders, a former police officer who has worked for nearly 15 years as a police psychologist for several agencies in California. "There is sort of an underground, unspoken tradition among several departments that I've worked with that if you really want to bulk up, this is the best way to do it.''
But steroids can also lead to heart disease, liver damage and shrunken testicles, as well as uncontrolled aggression, or ``roid rage,'' which can be especially dangerous in a law officer.
"These substances can cause depression and despondency, and here is a person who has a weapon,'' said Dr. Linn Goldberg, head of Oregon Health & Science University's Division of Health Promotion and Sports Medicine.
A former Riverdale, Ga., police officer who received a life sentence in 1995 for the slaying of a bar owner, and an Oregon jail guard who received a 20-year sentence in 1986 for kidnapping, shooting and paralyzing a woman both claimed steroid use contributed to their behavior.