Thursday, November 22, 2007

Were YVR TASER® cops on steroids?

I was listening to CKNW this aft (while waiting for Cable Buddy to show), and like everyone, they were talking about the TASER® killing at YVR. The context of the discussion was compensation for Robert Dziekanski's mother, and her lawyer Walter Kosteckyj was a guest on the show. Speaking about the RCMP officers involved in the incident, Mr. Kosteckyj pondered something that hadn't occurred to me thus far, but makes sense -- the possibility that the situation escalated so quickly because one or more of the officers were "under the influence" of steroids.

It's a growing phenomenon: to bulk up and keep a physical edge on criminals, some cops have been resorting to the quick fix of steroids to augment their bodybuilding routines. Steroid use among police officers has soared in the last decade, and especially in the last couple of years. According to an ABC story published last month:
"From Boston to Arizona, police departments are investigating a growing number of incidents involving uniformed police officers using steroids. So-called "juicing" has been anecdotally associated with several brutality cases, including the 1997 sodomizing of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima in New York City."
An expert quoted by ABC estimates roughly one in four police officers in high-pressure urban areas are on steroids, so while it's a minority, it's a significant one. While what happens in the States doesn't necessarily happen everywhere, police culture transcends boundaries. This informal poll at the BlueLine forum indicates that most officers believe strength and endurance are the best physical attributes for their job, and those are what 'roids do best. So it's probably not unreasonable to assume Canadian cops are experiencing the same phenomenon as their American cohorts, if to a lesser degree.

Well, let's see. The user profile fits. And what psychological traits are steroid users best known for? Oh yes -- short tempers and impaired judgment. Which would certainly help explain why a seemingly docile situation such as the police were dealing with in Robert Dziekanski could escalate and go sideways so fast. So steroid use could be a sidebar issue that an independent inquiry might want to examine, because if the TASERs® go, there are still maglites to bash people over the head with. And rocks.