Monday, March 4, 2013

Police road rage? Maybe it's 'roid rage

I recently watched a video recently posted on the Hell for Leather web site, which was shot by a guy wearing a helmet-cam on his slow, within-the-law commute to work at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. Leaving aside the fact that the poster worked at the Hard Rock Cafe in ‘Vegas -- i.e., he’s already being punished daily -- the recent uptick in such police-harassment/overreaction videos has got me thinking.

Of course, one reason there are more of these videos is that more and more people are using GoPro cams. A lot of the time, the cameras are on because the rider/photographer wants to document his hooliganism, and when they provoke a police overreaction, they’re getting about what they deserve.

But that wasn’t the case with this recent video. And it once again got me thinking about another factor in such unprovoked, hyperaggressive police behavior.

Steroid use by cops.

A couple of years ago, a New Jersey doctor -- who was, himself, a heavy steroid user -- dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 45. Since he looked, to some eyes, the picture of health, a coroner’s investigation ensued, confirming his own steroid habit. 

Investigators realized he was just the tip of the iceberg, though, when they discovered that he was illegally prescribing steroids to over 250 cops (and some firefighters) in New Jersey and New York. It has since become obvious that virtually all urban police forces turn a blind eye to steroid use that is basically endemic among patrol officers and ubiquitous amongst SWAT-type units.

I’ve seen FBI estimates quoted, suggesting that the number of cops on ‘roids is in the tens of thousands. Considering that those estimates are based on things like which cops are stupid enough to buy them on their employer’s prescription drug plan, it seems likely to me that the FBI’s underestimating the scope of steroid use by at least an order of magnitude. That is supported by my own direct observation; there are several cops that are obviously on the juice at the one small gym where I work out, and I can’t imagine my gym serves more than 0.0025% of U.S. cops.

The relevance, of course, is that steroids are known to cause increased aggression, and at least some of the time the drugs interfere with reasoning and cloud judgement -- the famous ‘roid rage side effect. 

Rafael Galan, a Passaic County Sheriff's deputy, was one of the hundreds of cops who illegally used steroids prescribed by the deceased 'roid junkie and 'Doctor' Joseph Colao.
Sometimes, it’s obvious that you’re dealing with a cop that’s on the juice, but not always. There’s lots of cops that take steroids but are too lazy to work out.

Considering that there are nearly a million cops walking around armed in the U.S., the fact that a significant percentage of them are illegally using drugs that encourage them to fly into an unprovoked rage is obviously a massive public safety issue. It’s also a gigantic liability for virtually all big-city police departments, because virtually none of them have attempted to bring steroid use under control, even though all of them know it’s endemic. 

Imagine the lawsuit that could be brought by those women whose truck was shot up in the recent Dorner manhunt, if they could prove that the cops who shot at them were under the influence of illegal drugs and that the police force’s senior brass knew about their steroid use and either tacitly condoned it or at the very least actively turned a blind eye to it?

One more thing to bear in mind when you’re out there riding, because merely by riding a motorcycle you’re increasing the odds of a run-in with ‘roid rage.
Rogue cop Christopher Dorner was 6', 270 pounds. Juiced? That would explain a lot.

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