Sep 26 2010
A year long investigation on police officers in Gold Coast, Queensland revealed that several officers were using steroids for non-medical reasons. This is aside from the misconduct of some officers in the area where bribery and corruption is a major problem. The investigation named Operation Tesco has required many police officers and department heads to testify in the inquiry headed by the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC).
Australian news agencies reported that there were at least 6 police officers who will be disciplined because of their involvement in illegal use of anabolic steroids. Most of them told the CMC that they took steroids to fight fatigue and to become stronger and bigger. For them, steroids could help them become more effective in providing services in an area where crimes are prevalent. A statement from the Queensland Police Union (QPU) also pointed out the current situation of the officers in Gold Coast.
Ian Leavers, QPU President told the commission that misconducts and use of performance enhancing drugs by some officers could be prevented if they have enough number of police officers servicing the Gold Coast area. He said that at least 100 new officers are needed because they are under-resourced and understaffed. Another problem that he raised is the lack of senior officers who are guiding junior policemen. “That is unacceptable in an area as vibrant and as dangerous and as violent on the Gold Coast,” said Leavers.
The use of steroids by police officers is unacceptable because it can affect their judgment according to a health expert invited in the hearing. If it is not prescribed for any medical reason, it can lead to “hypermanic episodes“. “That is they will get anxious, have sleep difficulties, become agitated, irritable, angry, and they can overreact to situations and their judgment may not be as balanced as it might normally be,” said David Handelsman of the Sydney Medical School. There were previous reports that officers were too aggresive in performing arrests in the area.
Officers taking steroids are also prone to over dosages and sometimes mix the drug with black market steroids or other illicit drugs which is more dangerous. Queensland Police Service human resources manager Patricia Jones said during the inquiry that the use of steroids is a concern of their department. Jones told the investigators that they already placed posters in police stations warning officers about the use of anabolic steroids.
A comprehensive steroid testing is not yet implemented in the Queensland Police Service. They only conduct tests on drugs and alcohol on officers and recruits under suspicion. The cost of steroid testing is one of the major problems in implementing the program. Jones said that random drug testing will cost them around $500,000 a year. “For $500,000, I could possibly employ four to five more police officers (so) the question becomes, what’s the cost benefit?” she said.
The CMC chairman Martin Moynihan welcomed the cooperation of all agencies concerned. He believes that the implementation of some changes will prevent the return of widespread corruption and misconduct in the police force. “What this hearing shows is that we are all on the same page and will continue to work together to achieve a common goal of raising integrity,” Moynihan said.