Phoenix police officer Albert Smith's mugshot
A Phoenix police officer arrested for domestic violence last week was suspended in 2007 for his use of illegal steroids during a department crackdown on the artificial male hormone. In an interview with KTAR at the time, Officer Albert Smith defended the use of the drug by police officers and fire fighters, and suggested that steroids were widely accepted amongst officers.
Speaking to KTAR, Smith said "There's tons of guys out there, tons of guys, on the fire department, on the police department, that are using. My honest opinion? I don't believe they should be illegal, I think it's a personal decision. I'm not hurting anybody." A 2007 investigation by CBS 5 found that, despite Smith's claims that steroid use is harmless, the drug was linked to allegations against more than a dozen Phoenix police officers and firefighters involving suicidal threats, rage, restraining orders, and domestic abuse.
Smith may not have been honest about his own behavior prior to the interview with KTAR. Court documents from a lawsuit filed against Smith and the City of Phoenix in 2005 reveal that the officer was accused of extreme brutality during an arrest. The suit alleged that Smith had "punched Plaintiff behind his head with a gun, slammed Plaintiff's face on the sidewalk, put his knee in Plaintiff's head, and then kicked Plaintiff. Other unidentified officers arrived and joined Smith in kicking Plaintiff. They did not stop until they heard over their radios that civilians were watching. Plaintiff also alleges that the officers were deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. He suffered various physical injuries, including fractured ribs and a bump on his head."
Considering the violent outburst which led to Smith assaulting his wife, his past statements in defense of officers using strength enhancing steroids, and the past accusations of brutality would seem to qualify Smith for a full substance abuse testing by investigators of this case to determine if the officer is still using steroids.
While the outcome of the lawsuit is not found in court documents available online, it is probable that the suit did not go forward once the plaintiff was found guilty in his criminal trial. However, the behavior described in the lawsuit would not be considered irregular for an individual who has used an anabolic steroid drug. The widespread abuse of steroid by police officers, and the potential for an increase in on the job violence, was noted in an article published in Police Chief, the magazine of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and authored by law enforcement officers and medical professionals in law enforcement.
Among the list of symptoms to watch for in cases of anabolic steroids use are "Mood swings, particularly if aggressive", "Unreasonable emotional responses to situations", and "Multiple incidents of 'use of force' or complaints of improper outbursts and attitude." Considering the violent outburst which led to Smith assaulting his wife, his past statements in defense of officers using strength enhancing steroids, and the past accusations of brutality would seem to qualify Smith for a full substance abuse testing by investigators of this case to determine if the officer is still using steroids.
Smith is not the only Phoenix officer who has made the news in recent months after an arrest for domestic violence. In late August Phoenix police lieutenant Dalin Webb was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and disorderly conduct after he allegedly shoved his wife and choked his son. As reported in Down and Drought at the time, Lt. Webb was a school resource officer and served as an adviser to the anti-bullying group Not My Kid. It appears that Webb is still employed by the department and on duty, a check of the Phoenix police department's website lists him as an area lieutenant at the Mountain View precinct. Webb had plead not guilty to the two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and one felony count of aggravated assault, his charges have been dismissed while a grand jury decides whether he should face new charges and move to trial.
Smith and Webb's arrests illustrate that the culture of police violence extends from the city streets to the homes of the officers. The Center for Women and Policing's research found that as many as 40 percent of law enforcement families experience domestic violence, while the number stands at 10 percent for the rest of the population. In addition to these startling numbers, the victims of abuse from police are especially vulnerable because their abuser is armed, knows the locations of women's shelters, and has knowledge of how to use the system escape the consequences and shift blame to their victims.
As October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Phoenix police department have made a video, patrol cars have purple awareness month ribbon magnets placed on them as well. It is doubtful they will use their own officers' arrests to illustrate why domestic violence is never acceptable.