Reporting Levon Putney
HAMILTON, NJ (CBSNewYork/AP) - Police departments in New Jersey will now be able to test their officers for steroids.
WCBS 880′s Levon Putney Has The Story
The testing is part of a new plan unveiled Thursday to combat illegal steroid use by law enforcement. An investigation by The Star-Ledger of Newark found hundreds of officers and firefighters using government benefits to pay for muscle-building drugs.
Those who test positive will need a doctor’s letter saying there’s a legitimate medical reason and that they’re still fit for duty.
Still, it’s not mandatory.
“The costs, frankly, can be prohibitive,” says state Attorney General Paula Dow.
Dow says she’s calling for legislation to get tough on doctors who improperly prescribe.
“I think this is one other area that we can tighten up the law here in New Jersey,” Dow told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney.
The plan will also add human growth hormone to the list of prescriptions that the state tracks.
New Jersey paid more than $11 million in 2010 for steroid and growth hormone prescriptions for state employees.
Dow says this could all help cut down on the cost of state health benefit plans used to pay for the steroids.
Why did hundreds of police officers and firefighters statewide begin using steroids and growth hormones?
“Everybody wants to get ahead. They want to be the best,” says William Nally – police chief in Lacey and president of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.
He says each officer has their own reason for using the drugs, which will now be included in the list of substances for which they will randomly be tested.
In an interview with 1010 WINS, Dow said although the problem was largely in law enforcement, it wasn’t in that field exclusively. She said media and popular culture have pushed for an image that steroids can provide.
“There’s been a pressure throughout the country to bulk up and to mimic things that are done in the athletic world and often law enforcement officers, in particular, could be susceptible to that,” Dow told 1010 WINS.
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