Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Shift steroid testing dollars from students to cops

Kuff criticizes the high-school athletics steroid testing that this blog has derided since its inception, noting that "About 50,000 tests since February 2008 have found only about 20 confirmed cases of steroid use." Chuck opines that the program at one point cost $3 million per year before it was scaled back in reaction to reports of its ineffectiveness. "It’s now down to $750K," he says, "Which ought to be the first thing erased from the budget next biennium, since clearly we’re spending all that money on a non-problem."

I certainly understand that sentiment. I'd suggest, though, that funds for steroid testing not be eliminated entirely but instead redirected to an area where we know there's a much more significant problem than in high school sports: Steroid use among law enforcement. After a high-profile steroid dealer in Plano who was accused of selling illicit drugs to cops and professional athletes died of gunshot wounds along with his bodybuilder girlfriend, Plano authorities chose to aggressively pursue his athlete clients but didn't investigate who were his police officer customers. Only one of the five agencies at which he allegedly sold drugs implemented steroid testing in response. Too often, police agencies tolerate steroid use among their own even while investigating others for the same offense.

There are so many high school athletes that spending $750K can't remotely check everybody, and even when they do test, only 2 in 10,000 athletes come up positive. OTOH, that much money aimed at steroid testing a much smaller number of active-duty law enforcement officers would allow for much broader coverage among a group where there's a lot more evidence that steroid use is a widespread, significant problem. Right now, in most cases investigators - federal, state and local - fail to take the most obvious first steps toward investigating steroid use among police, even when they have evidence that would allow such an inquiry. (If you're a celebrity sports star, though, they'll spare no expense to hang you out to dry.)

Steroid testing on student athletes turned out to be well-intentioned but unnecessary. Perhaps if police were tested, we'd similarly discover that a de minimis number were using steroids, at which point I'd argue, just like with athletes, that it's simply not necessary if it's catching so few. OTOH, there's good reason to suspect steroid use among police is much more widespread than among high school student athletes, and if the state is going to invest in steroid testing, it makes a lot more sense to put resources there.

15 comments:

Hook Em Horns said...

Forget testing cops for steroids and instead focus on hiring "better" cops. Raise the salaries and spend more on extensive background investigations and behavior tests as part of the application process.

Get the liars, cheats, manipulators and criminals OUT of law enforcement!

Prison Doc said...

I guess I have become to libertarian in my old age to see any wisdom in testing anyone outside of professional athletics--and it seems like within the decade even that taboo will irrevocably fall.

And HookEm, this old Aggie would say that liars, cheats, manipulators and criminals don't go into law enforcement, but the system soon turns officers--and prosecutors--into the dark side.

Anonymous said...

Good idea.

Anonymous said...

More money won't fix cops. (At least, not the amount we're talking about.) It's that "cop mentality" that will have to be fixed. The cop mentality often takes over and dictates that there are two kinds of people: cops, and everyone else. After that happens, then another attitude adjustment takes place that basically says that laws are for everyone else, but cops get a pass because sometimes cops have to break the law in order to be cops. Steroid use is just another one of those things that are allowed by the prevailing "cop mentality."

Anonymous said...

"Get the liars, cheats, manipulators and criminals OUT of law enforcement!"

OUT of the federal, state and local governments too! OUT of the judicary, prosecution and probation too! OUT of the medical and educational professions too!

What did we leave out?

Anonymous said...

The Media?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Prison Doc, in most settings I agree with you, but after going back and forth on this over many years, here's where I've come down: In a perfect world, I don't see why informed adults shouldn't use steroids, athletes included. I really don't care, it's their body and I want to watch people run faster, jump higher, hit more home runs, etc.. Barry Bonds juiced but Babe Ruth didn't hit against black pitchers. Put 'em all in the record books - everybody has some advantage.

I also understand why some cops would want to juice; I'll even grant there's a strong argument for letting them. However, as long as steroids are illegal, for police to purchase them (or other illicit drugs) opens cops up to blackmail and manipulation because of their participation in the black market. So I see it as essentially an anti-corruption measure: The health issues concern me less when an adult knowingly chooses to use steroids.

R. Shackleford said...

If you want to shrink your grapes in exchange for pimple-encrusted muscles, go for it. But the law needs to apply to everyone equally, ESPECIALLY cops. It just underscores the 'leos are above the law' cop mentality.

Anonymous said...

"I'll even grant there's a strong argument for letting them"

I have to disagree with you on this one Grits. All we need is an arrogant, gun-toting, badge-welding, god-complex Alpha male ALSO carrying around ROID-RAGE. That equates not to throwing gas on a fire, but building a bon-fire at a gas refinery.

Roids taken in any form other than a truly medical reason, needs to be verboten.

Anonymous said...

Shack,

You paint with a very wide brush.

R. Shackleford said...

Anny 10:55

Tack this onto the end of my last sentence," that many (but probably not all) leos have." There, happy now?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Shack! Your shoulder must be killing you with that huge chip on it.

R. Shackleford said...

Nope, the shoulder is fine. You can't call it a "chip", that's far too trivial a designation. Makes it sound like it's an unreasonable thing to be angry at leos who flout the law, like they're neighbors who let their dogs poop on your rose bushes. In reality, cops have broad powers of life and death over all citizens, and should be held to a much higher standard of conduct than the people they have power over. But they aren't. So yeah, anny432, I'm angry. And filled with bitter contempt for the whole system. I suspect you're a part of that system, otherwise you wouldn't bother to make lame and smart ass comments in defense of it.

Anonymous said...

No Shack, I'm not part of the system. I just like ruffling your feathers to the point where you resort to sarcasm and foul language to denegrate those who dare to challenge you.

The fact that I can make you return to a comment section on a post that is over a week old to smack me down proves that I can.

I'll be around, but not to this posting again so don't even bother responding . . . even though I know you will.

todd.hakala said...
This comment has been removed by the author.