Thursday, June 13, 2013

Time for comprehensive steroid testing at Arlington PD

It's been a while since this blog has focused on the topic of use of illegal steroids by police, mostly because those in power seem utterly uninterested in the topic compared to, say, steroid use by retired baseball players. But this blog's recent indifference doesn't mean the issue went away and it reared its head again this week in the Metroplex. Here's how the Star-Telegram coverage of the case ("Arlington officer accused of tipping off steroid dealer," June 13) opened:
A 17-year Arlington police veteran accessed law-enforcement-only databases to tip off a steroid dealer from whom he had been buying steroids for himself and other officers for years, according to federal documents released Wednesday.

Thomas S. Kantzos, 45, was arrested by the FBI on Tuesday, the same day that David Vo, another officer under investigation, died in an apparent suicide.

Kantzos, who had been federal custody, made an initial appearance in federal court in Dallas on Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Paul D. Stickney.

He was ordered released on pretrial supervision with certain conditions. Wearing a black T-shirt and shorts, Kantzos was told that he must give up his weapons, law enforcement license and passport and refrain from taking drugs.

Kantzos is charged with unlawfully providing sensitive information by exceeding authorized access to a protected computer.

According to a federal affidavit, the investigation began in January after a man arrested for distributing anabolic steroids told authorities that he had sold steroids to Kantzos for five or six years.

The man, referred to in the affidavit as the “CW,” or cooperating witness, told investigators that on at least one occasion, he delivered about 20 human growth hormone kits to Kantzos while the officer was on duty, in uniform and in his patrol car.
Grits has long said I wouldn't mind if steroids were legalized and used responsibly by cops, firefighters, athletes, bodybuilders, you name it. Others will surely disagree, but at root I think adults should be able to take them if they know the risks. In part that's because of the harms from a black market and in part because a regulated market would make it easier to keep steroids out of the hands of young people, for whom the physical risks are more significant. But as long as the substances are banned, the act of securing steroids opens police up to corruption and mixed allegiances that may sometimes favor the criminal element, as alleged in this unhappy story.

Long-time readers will recall that Arlington PD has a history of de facto tolerance toward steroid users with arbitrators in 2007 reinstating an officer in a high-profile case that department brass wanted to fire for steroid use. Futher, as Grits reported in 2008, now-deceased steroid dealer David Jacobs claimed to have sold steroids to officers in five Metroplex police departments before he and his girlfriend died of gunshot wounds that year in an incident officially ruled a murder/suicide. Dallas PD implemented department-wide steroid testing after the incident, but the other four - Garland, Richardson, Arlington and Plano - did not. In other words, this episode is not a one-off. And Arlington PD has already tried doing nothing and hoping the issue will blow over.

Given that record, perhaps it's time for Arlington PD to begin immediate, comprehensive steroid testing of its police officers. These episodes keep cropping up over and over. Why not react more aggressively?

MORE: Eric Nicholson at the Dallas Observer's Unfair Park blog had an even more detailed post yesterday regarding this most recent incident involving Officer Thomas Kantzos:
A federal criminal complaint filed against Kantzos today provides a much clearer picture of the allegations.

According to court documents, Kantzos used his access to state and federal law enforcement databases to illegally run at least a half-dozen names and license plates for a suspected drug dealer. The first time this happened, in December 2011, the dealer discovered that the man with the laptop parked down the street was a member of a local drug task force and that someone had hidden a tracking device on his car.

But that just scratches the surface of Arlington PD's troubles. The drug dealer was arrested in January 2013 and became a cooperating witness. He told the FBI that Kantzos had been a customer for at least five years, regularly stocking up on steroids and human growth hormone. Once, he told agents, he had even delivered a shipment to Kantzos while the cop was in his squad car, in uniform and on duty.

But Kantzos wasn't the only one. Text messages (""oy from work wants a test and a dec....") and phone conversations revealed that a whole mess of Arlington cops were doing steroids. The dealer -- he's identified in court documents only as "CW," or cooperating witness -- had supplied several. At least two of the license plates checks were conducted by Kantzos' Arlington PD colleagues when he wasn't at work.

Following the his arrest, FBI agents built a criminal case by recording the dealer's texts and phone calls. During one conversation in April, Kantzos seemed concerned by the arrest of a couple of dealers who'd been selling steroids to his colleagues. He wanted to know if the dealer was connected at all to the arrestees and whether it would affect his supply.

"All our sources dried up," Kantzos explained, going on to promise that "You'll be back in business" and "I got like five guys that are fucking 'jonesin.'"

That was in April.
AND MORE: In response to the indictment, reported the Dallas News, Arlington police chief Will Johnson "announced an immediate expansion of the department’s random drug testing program to include all employees." Three questions immediately come to mind: 1) Dd the random testing not cover uniformed officers already? 2) Why not enact comprehensive testing - at least on a one-time basis - to clean house instead of waiting and hoping random testing will pick them up over time? Finally, 3) when will the other shoe(s) drop? From what's publicly known already, Kantzos allegedly supplied other officers, yet more officers still obtained steroids from other sources. Kantzos was busted not for steroid use per se but for doing favors for his dealer like license plate checks. And at least two other Arlington police officers did it, too. This is but the beginning of a sordid tale, not its denouement, if APD management has the stones to follow the evidence all the way to the end of the path. Given the scope of APD officer involvement, it might be better if an independent agency like the FBI or the Texas Rangers took on that task.

See prior related Grits posts:


Anonymous said...

Is there a reason grits is censoring my comments by deleting them? Have the balls to at least post a reason so that the public knows the type of person you are.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

I haven't deleted anything on this post at all. Don't know what you're talking about. Fire away.

As long as you stay on topic and don't make personal attacks on people not named in the post, I generally don't vet comments.

Anonymous said...

Have often questioned the lege's determination to waste resources testing high schoolers while ignoring the shaven headed, hulked up constabulary.
Bring on full scale testing of every cop agency.

Anonymous said...

I should not have to be drug tested because of the acts of another.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"I should not have to be drug tested because of the acts of another."

Might I ask why not?

I had to have a background check because of the acts of others.

I have to have a driver's license because of the acts of others.

I have to go through metal detectors because of the acts of others.

I can't get out of an auto and approach an officer when stopped by a traffic unit because of the acts of others.

I have to have a CHL to carry a firearm because of the acts of others.

Etc., etc., etc.

Anonymous said...

Yes you can ask. Pre-employment drug testing is one thing; to haul everyone in and test because of what someone else did is another.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
'Yes you can ask. Pre-employment drug testing is one thing; to haul everyone in and test because of what someone else did is another."

Is another what?

Commercial pilots, truck drivers, etc. are already under drug testing. As will be some of the unemployed seeking their previously earned unemployment benefits.

What makes a gun carrying, high-speed-driving, instant life and death decision maker exempt?

Anonymous said...

Grits, just wrote a pretty good piece outlining that there are at least 5 cops jickin for a shot. Who knows, you might be #3 or know him.

Something says that you are 'not' dirty but very pissed off that these dirty cops have tarnished the image of the Dept. and the good cops alike resulting in calls for vetting of all in order to clean house.

And you should be pissed off enough to be the first to sign up.

Anonymous said...

I feel you, but, Anny listed some very good reasons as to why everyone has to get in line based on some asshole's prior conduct. Every officer on duty went through the pre-employment testing and passed.

Some may have cheated or became dirty years later, nevertheless, apparently, APD has some dirty cops based on the words of another dirty APD cop.

Anonymous said...

Clean cops should be fighting to get in line in order to get it over with and believe it or not, we the people would consider allowing the dirty to voluntarily enroll in rehab and get back to fighting crime.

Steroids are for getting bulked up vs. fucked up which is why we would be willing to cut some slack. I’m more concerned with a drunken cop’s actions but those that have seen roid rage up close and personal would disagree.

Anonymous said...

Grits, I'd like to see the call expanded to include Testing for steroids & every known drug and alcohol every 45 days (mandatory when regarding officer related beatings, shootings and killings of humans, pets & animals).

Including every single public servant charged with law enforcement – Judges’, J.Ps'., D.As’., ADAs’, Bailiffs’, Jailers’, Constables, Police Cheifs', Sheriffs’, Deputies’, Parking Enforcement, Animal Control, Prison Guards including any & all servants carrying / issued any firearms or weapons. By ‘not’ testing everyone / everywhere we will continue to hear about drug / alcohol related health issues, family violence & citizens being bullied or harmed due to the known side effects.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, I passed pre-employment screening. I don't have to be the first one in line just because a minority of the group have violated their entrusted positions. No more than one should be considered guilty of a crime just because they invoke their right to an attorney, refuse to testify, or not answer any questions.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

9:31, in police culture steroid use typically begins AFTER they've joined the force. Saying you passed a pre-employment screening is simply non-responsive to the situation being described. Who cares about the test you passed 17 years ago. The question is are you doing steroids now? Arlington knows they have a significant cadre of steroid-using cops. How can they responsibly turn a blind eye to the problem?

BTW, this guy is a former Arlington PD officer and then a reserve during the beginning of his bodybuilding career. There's significant evidence that this has been an issue at Arlington PD for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Probable cause? Reasonable suspicion? Specific acts or behavior that would lead an objectively reasonable person to believe that an individual police officer is using, abusing, or selling anabolic steroids? If you have any of these, then by all means, test them. Otherwise, let's please try to remember that even cops have constitutional rights.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

The constitution does not give them a right to be a police officer. Lots of jobs require drug testing as a condition of employment. Happens all the time. Needs to happen here.

Anonymous said...

That's just "code" for your belief that cops don't have the same constitutional rights as other citizens. Courts have consistently ruled that police officers, like all other government employees, have a constitutional right to due process. This is especially true when it involves an employee's medical privacy and personal health conditions. Again, if there's articulable probable cause, then test them. Otherwise, hands off. Why is that a problem for you?

gravyrug said...

3:13, the problem is that high school students and sports figures are being held to a higher standard than the police. That's just plain wrong.

Anonymous said...

The DMN has Chief Johnson saying he is going to train employees to spot steroid users.

Dollars to donuts (no pun) says that there will be less showering & pissing at work, with all of the increased peter gazing patrols.

Spread'em, ewwwwww.

Anonymous said...

As it now, we know why kids run from the cops.

Ex. Chad Holly (a damn criminal) ran and after being hit by a cruiser he fell to the ground and complied. He was stomped on by a gang of blue and no one was tested. Anyone know why a violent episode didn’t require mandatory testing? Take a look at the cop that just got probation for his role and you’ll see a massive upper body and head as big as a trashcan. Roidman? Or bodybuilder?

Anonymous said...

Officer, if you pull me over for being white in a black hood and ask (order) me to put my hands up and get out the car and I say - What did I do? I wasn't speeding; I’m not getting out until you tell me what crime I did, I know my rights. Does your training kick in and tell you aim the dash cam away from my car so you can drag me out by my hair and throw me on to the hot asphalt face down and jump on my back and cuff me and perform your newest hold or move?

If your partner was the aggressor of an incident, would you step in and make him / her stand down & report it to your supervisor? Now, consider you let it slide and that he / she could be raging or coming down from a weekend coke-out or drunken blowout and smash your head in for not complying to his / her demands for an untimely lunch break.

You are probably the best on the force and understand that any conversations you have here or elsewhere is only an attempt to make you understand the other side of the story. If someone says something that offends you please don’t take home or on patrol. You are one of the good guys and we need to be assured that your coworkers are just as good.

Anonymous said...

When someone doesn't comply or replies with questions the video always shows (when the dash cam is on) 79 year old women & men being teased or thrown down. Police are even shown beating the living shit out of kids, lawyers, judges, their families, other officers and shooting lil barking dogs. Without testing all & for everything, you are covering up potential drug & alcohol use that could spill over into the dept. gym, parking lot or home.

If you only examine for fleas and ignore the ticks and mites, you assist the ticks & mites in their takeover. Any testing not performed by someone without any ties to the dept is up for cheating or cover up. Who will test who & will they get a headsup?

Shirley said...

Doesn't aggressiveness caused by steroids also spill over to home life? I don't know why it wouldn't. If I were innocent I would be first in line to prove it. Why all of the anger to show you aren't one of the rotten apples? That sounds like a steroid reaction. Clean cops want a clean force. The public wants a clean force. Rehab sounds good for those who have not already abused their position and beaten the crap out of an individual who also has constitution rights. Citizens have lost faith in the police. Every clean cop should want to clean up that image.