The use of anabolic steroids by law enforcement officers seems to be pervasive in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and likely many other countries around the world. It is difficult to say which country has the biggest problem with cops and steroids. It may be even more difficult to single out which police force is the worst offender when it comes to cops and steroids. One thing that can be said for certain is that the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) in Canada has been working hard to rise to the top of the latter list.
A 22-month investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) uncovered two cops who were selling steroids to other officers within the department. The investigation began in April 2013 as the result of a tip from a concerned citizen. The results of the investigation were announced in March 2015 along with the arrest of two officers who allegedly trafficked steroids.
EPS detective Greg Lewis and EPS Constable Darren French were identified as the source of the steroid problem at EPS. Det Lewis was a 10-year member of the EPS and French was a 25-year veteran. Lewis was charged with three counts of trafficking in a Schedule IV controlled substance, specifically the anabolic steroids stanozolol (Winstrol), testosterone and/or methyl-testosterone, in violation of Canada’s Controlled Drug and Substances Act (CDSA). French was charged with one count.
EPS Police Chief Rod Knecht and the Edmonton Police Association (EPA) did everything they could to minimize the seriousness of the investigation and the scope of the problem.
Chief Knecht wanted to make it clear that Lewis and French weren’t really steroid dealers. They were not motivated by financial gain and were not selling steroids as part of an organized (criminal) commercial operation.
The two long-time EPS cops imported steroids for their own personal use and only shared them with a few fellow officers who also enjoyed working out according to Knecht. In March 2013, Chief Knecht asserted that the number of cops who received steroids from Lewis and French were limited to six officers. The assertion later turned out to be false.
EPA Director Mike Elliot defended, and even praised, the steroid-using cops are some of the top police officer employed by the Edomonto Police Service in comments made to a local Edmonton talk radio show.
“Quite opposite. They’re excellent officers,” Elliot said. “They go to work every day and do their job magnificently. But I know when people hear of a steroid they think ‘You’re cheating yourself.’ And I just think they made a wrong choice.”
Both EPA Director Elliot and EPS Chief Knecht trivialized the steroid use in law enforcement as no big deal. They expressed no concern about corruption, participation or even fears of steroid-related aggression. At the worst, Chief Knecht felt that the most troubling concern was that cops “using steroids is cheating”. Apparently, cops who want to become bigger, faster and stronger are obtaining an unfair advantage in their fight against criminals.
The lack of concern over steroid use by the EPS officers may stem from the fact that, unlike the United States where steroid possession is criminalized, individuals can legally use steroids for bodybuilding and muscle-building purposes in Canada. Steroid use is legally protected since the personal possession for self-administration is decriminalized. This doesn’t mean steroids are entirely legal. The sale and distribution of steroids remains strictly illegal under the CDSA.
While regular Canadian citizens can legally use steroids, Canadian law enforcement officers are presented with a unique problem. In order to obtain steroids, Canadian cops must either import them from overseas (which is illegal) or they must buy them from local steroid dealers. And if they make the latter choice, the officers would be forced to overlook or ignore criminal activity or, even worse, protect a criminal enterprise.
In the ensuing weeks after the EPS steroid scandal was announced, it became apparent that the number of steroid-using cops at EPS was far greater than initial estimates. Rather than a small group of six cops, it turned out that as many as 30 cops may have been using steroids and had knowledge of Lewis and French’s illegal steroid-dealing activities.
The cops may have thought they were protecting their friends and colleagues but they were really protecting the unfettered operation of a criminal enterprise within the Edmonton Police Service.
Chief Knecht was forced to admitted that dozens of cops were interviewed about steroid use and trafficking at EPS but remained reluctant to tell anyone exactly how many of them were guilty of using steroids.
The steroid scandal could have far-reaching implications for other criminal cases. An EPS officer who was found guilty of discreditable conduct and deceit when he covered up the steroid dealing had his crucial testimony thrown out in a cocaine trafficking case. This resulted in a mistrial that overturned the conviction and sentencing of Ryan Carl Lind for possession of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking. Now, prosecutors must prove Lind’s guilt in a brand new trial.
Chady Moustarah, the defense attorney for Lind, summed up the problem of steroid use by cops the best when he addressed the press after the mistrial was declared.
“This conduct is pretty outrageous for a police officer,” Moustarah said. “Certainly, it would’ve brought his credibility into question. It’s not a guarantee it would’ve resulted in an acquittal, but it would’ve helped a great deal…
“The mistrial was because it isn’t just that a person would be convicted when a material witness is guilty of deceit and discreditable conduct. The cops aren’t above the law and, even after a conviction, they remain accountable for their actions.”
And that’s the issue in a nutshell. It’s not so much about cops using steroids. It’s about cops who have a sworn duty to uphold the law choosing to place themselves above the law and opening themselves up to corruption and participation in a criminal activity.
The Complete Series: When Your Local Cops Are Steroid Dealers
- Part 1 – The Newton Police Department
- Part 2 – The Philadelphia Police Department
- Part 3 – The Arlington Police Department
- Part 4 – The West Yorkshire Police Department
- Part 5 – The Niagara Regional Police Service
- Part 6 – The West Palm Beach Police Department
- Part 7 – The Boston Police Department
- Part 8 – The King County Sheriff’s Office
- Part 9 – The Secaucus Police Department
- Part 10 – The Edmonton Police Service
Blais, T. (May 28, 2015). Drug dealer gets new trial due to steroid cop’s lie. Retrieved from http://www.edmontonsun.com/2015/05/28/drug-dealer-gets-new-trial-due-to-steroid-cops-lie
Estabrooks, T. (May 22, 2015). Edmonton police chief says more officers admit to steroid use. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/edmonton-police-chief-says-more-officers-admit-to-steroid-use-1.3083993
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