Last October, Miami New Times broke the news that at least two Miami Police Department cops had been clients at the notorious Coral Gables steroid den Biogenesis. Hours after that story was published, MPD brass announced they’d soon begin testing their cops for anabolic steroid abuse because of “rage-like” problems on the force.
A full year later, though, MPD officers still aren’t being tested for the illegal muscle-building drugs.
Why not? A department spokesman says the chief’s office is still haggling with the union over how to handle the testing; the union, meanwhile, won’t comment.
All in all, the story is falling into a familiar national pattern: A major police force gets embarrassed by cops taking steroids, promises to crack down, and then does nothing about it.
Take, for instance, the New York Police Department, which promised to begin screening its cops after a 2008 federal investigation into a steroid-slinging Brooklyn pharmacy found that dozens of NYPD officers were clients. But experts say it’s not clear whether NYPD ever got around to testing or whether any of its cops have ever been punished for taking the drugs.
John Hoberman, a cultural historian at the University of Texas at Austin who is writing a book about police officers’ use of anabolic steroids, says he’s been unable to confirm whether NYPD or other departments that’ve promised similar crackdowns ever followed through.
“It is impossible to nail down the handful of departments that may be testing for steroids,” he says. “It’s a Jell-O-like target that keeps moving — an inadvertent shell game that keeps everyone uninformed, including the cops.”
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It seems to be the same story in Miami. Officials promised quick action on the testing, though they denied the plans had anything to do with New Times’ reports. “There’s no correlation there,” insisted union president Javier Ortiz, who said then that he’d already signed off on most provisions and expected testing to begin soon.
Instead, 12 months later, no agreements have been reached. Ortiz hung up twice on a New Times reporter before declining to comment on this story. A department spokesman says discussions are ongoing.
“They’re still researching vendors and the technical aspects of it,” says Sgt. Freddie Cruz, adding there’s no timetable to begin the testing.