Watching the stomach-churning coverage of the violent situation in Ferguson, Missouri (scenes reminiscent of "Troubles" era Belfast- yeah, still on that SLF kick, or "intifada-era Gaza), I have to wonder if much of the overly aggressive police response can be attributed to 'roid rage. Sources as divergent as Police Chief Magazine and the Think Steroids website cite a 1991 article from the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin concerning the abuse of anabolic steroids by police officers, the takeaway quote being:
“Anabolic steroid abuse by police officers is a serious problem that merits greater awareness by departments across the country.”
A simple Google search of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin archives reveals a bunch of items concerning police abuse of anabolic steroids.
I've always been fascinated by the topic of performance enhancement drugs, and I recall a conversation with an athlete who flat-out stated that everybody who reached a certain level of competition is using them. In the case of police use of performance enhancers, one reason oft cited is an escalating competition with "juiced" criminals (weight lifting in prisons is common enough to have passed into popular awareness, and itself is a result of escalating competition with other inmates for security)- prison inmates lift weights in order to intimidate and defend against other inmates, cops lift weights in order to defend against ex-cons. It could be likened to an arms (literally) race, if it were true... prison free weight gyms are largely a thing of the past, though the use of calisthenics and improvised weights still occur.
Another reason for anabolic steroid use is to bulk up to intimidating proportions in a quick, efficient manner (damn the consequences!). It's a lot easier to intimidate another individual when you're built along the lines of Gutboy Barrelhouse.
The links between anabolic steroid use and aggression need further study, and their synergistic effects of other drugs need to be explored as well.
That being said, every police officer involved in an act of aggression against an unarmed individual should immediately be placed on leave and testing for anabolic steroids should be conducted. The cost of random testing for anabolic steroids is prohibitive, but the cost of a post-incident test is warranted. If we can test guys who hit balls with clubs for steroid use, why can't we test guys who hit skulls with clubs?
Since I'm still on a Stiff Little Fingers kick, how about an appropriate song?
Law and order, they don't do what they oughta.