Cops Using Steroids To Bulk Up To Get An Edge

Cops Accused Of Using Steroids To Bulk Up To Get An Edge (AP)

As a brand-new police officer, Chris Holden wanted to do everything he could to protect himself, especially after he heard about a highway patrolman who was shot to death in a struggle over his gun. So he began bulking up with steroids. Now Holden, 31, is out of work, one of four members of the Norman [Oklahoma] Police Department who were fired last fall after being accused of using bodybuilding steroids. Police officers in Mississippi, Ohio, Connecticut, Hawaii, Colorado, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas and New York have also been accused of steroid-related offenses in recent years. In many cases, they were charged with using, possessing or dealing steroids.

Steroids are attractive to some officers who know that an intimidating physique can ward off conflict or give them the upper hand in a life-or-death struggle. “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.

One can certainly understand the desire of police officers to be big and strong. Enraged, depressed, impotent, and prematurely dead though, would seem to outweigh those advantages.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Pluto's Dad says:

    Steroids are completely safe when used properly. Most of the side effects come when people do not use them properly, use too much, are too young, etc. Esp nowdays when the drugs are much better and cause less side effects.

    If you look at who the lobbying groups are to get these, and now steriod precursors declared illegal, it is the sports authorities trying to combat use in their leagues. But the average american and consumer group falls for the scare tactics.

    Plus, roid rage never had clinical evidence to support it, it started out in courtrooms by a meathead who got in trouble and wanted an excuse.

    I think, as long as you have a doctor’s supervision, anyone over 30 should be allowed to use them.

  2. James Joyner says:

    PD: Certainly, in limited doses, they’re safe enough. My dad, girlfriend, and cats have used them for various ailments under doctor’s orders. It’s a whole different thing, though, to take massive quantities to bulk up. And these cops obviously weren’t under a doc’s supervision, given that their use for this purpose is illegal.