A badge, a gun, and a steroid-filled syringe.
This is not the usual imagery people have of police officers, but more and more cops are getting busted in steroid sweeps nationwide.
Unsurprisingly, observers are saying that steroid use amongst police officers is reaching Barry Bonds like proportions.
"It's a big problem, and from the number of cases, it's something we shouldn't ignore," Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne said to AOL News. "It's not that we set out to target cops, but when we're in the middle of an active investigation into steroids, there have been quite a few cases that have led back to police officers."
According to AOL News the amount of investigations into steroid use in the police ranks has increased in recent months:
* A former police officer in Canby, Ore., who allegedly took delivery of some steroids while on duty pleaded guilty in February to purchasing steroids.
* An officer in South Bend, Ind., pleaded no contest in March to selling steroids.
* A Cleveland police officer was sentenced to a year in prison and five years of supervised release in April after he was found guilty of illegally purchasing steroids.
* A dealer in Paw Paw, Mich., allegedly told authorities that he supplied "several police officers" with steroids, which led one Kalamazoo officer to resign in May.
Victor Conte, the founder of the lab known as Bay Area Lab Co-Operative, who helped numerous athletes cheat, said to AOL News that it wouldn’t surprise him if as many as a quarter of police officers were using some type of steroid drug.
Yes, that Number seems high. And while there are no studies on how many people in law enforcement are using steroids, the recent discovery that 248 cops and firefighters from 53 departments were linked to a Jersey City, N.J., doctor strengthens Conte's estimate.
One of the things that really has people worried is the potential for roid rage that could lead to unprofessional police conduct.
"I think overall, it's kind of like alcohol," Conte said to AOL News. "If you're a jerk when you're sober, you're going to be more of a jerk when you're using."
According to AOL News, Joseph Santiago, a former police director in Trenton, N.J., told The Star-Ledger that Trenton had a "significant amount" of excessive force complaints.
"When you looked at these records, you start to see where there might be a correlation," Santiago told The Star-Ledger. "Is it absolutely clear? No. Would a complaint have been there regardless of steroids? Those are issues that need to be addressed."
The issues of excessive force appear to be happening all over the country.
The lawyer for an 84-year-old Florida man who received a broken neck in September when he was forced to the ground wanted to get the Orlando cop involved in the situation tested for steroids. His request was denied by the department, they claimed the test would violate the officer’s rights.
Testing in law enforcement, much like it is in professional sports it a subject of much debate. Unions and the like allow for random testing for street drugs, but they sometimes block testing for steroids.
Physical fitness has become more important for police officers, but the recent trend of juiced up officers is a bit extreme. If the officers who have been caught is only a fraction of those who are using, how many officers patrolling the streets nationwide are on the juice?
This problem likely won’t go away anytime soon, it might just force police unions to give in and allow more testing for steroids. To the casual observer the resistance to testing might make it look like the police unions have something to hide.