Chandler police have launched an internal affairs investigation into three of their officers tied to a Drug Enforcement Agency probe into allegations of doctors prescribing anabolic steroids.
Chandler police spokesman Sgt. Rick Griner said on Tuesday that police began the investigation after the DEA informed the department that the officers’ names came up in its probe. Police are trying to determine whether the officers had any ties to the doctors or were involved in steroid use.
The DEA probe has so far turned up the names of more than a dozen Phoenix firefighters and police officers, a Mesa police patrol officer and the three Chandler officers through patient lists.
The director of Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training — a board that maintains officer certifications — said these cases are raising awareness among police administrators and POST that steroid use might be a larger problem now than in recent years.
“We’re alarmed by the news reports regarding the fact that there are a number of certified peace officers on this patient list of these doctors that are under investigation,” said Tom Hammarstrom, director of POST.
In the last five years, there have been five police officers who were investigated for steroid use, Hammarstrom said. In each case, POST revoked the officer’s certification, meaning the person can’t be a cop in Arizona.
The motivation for many officers to use steroids is similar to that of any person — they want to get big and muscular, he said.
“We’re very concerned about it for two reasons,” Hammarstrom said. “One, it’s unlawful ... Secondly, there’s good evidence that steroid abuse can cause aggressive behavior that’s inappropriate for any citizen, but particularly troublesome for police officers.”
Chandler police declined to release the names of the three officers, who are still on active duty.
The Mesa patrol officer was assigned to administrative tasks while the Mesa Police Department conducts an internal investigation.
Ramona Sanchez, DEA spokeswoman, said the investigation is focused on the doctors because the DEA traditionally focuses on the supplier of the drugs and not the drug users.
The DEA notified the local police departments after officers’ names turned up on a list of the physicians’ customers, Sanchez said.
She would not say how many agencies were notified about steroid use among the rank and file.
Police in Gilbert, Scottsdale and Tempe say the DEA has not notified them of any cops involved from their agencies.
Hammarstrom said after the departments conduct their investigations, POST expects to see the reports and will proceed from there.