Thursday, June 26, 2008

Westchester Guardian.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Cops On Steroids?

Anabolic Steroids = Police Brutality

Anabolic steroids, high levels of synthetic testosterone and human growth hormone (HGH) have been suspected and tested for in Major League baseball, the NFL, and just about every professional and amateur organized sporting event, including the Olympics. Their use has been banned for many years, with only partial success, and such compounds remain a continuing problem in terms of accessibility and detection.

Actually, the impact of anabolic steroids is most often quite detectable, both in terms of the user's physical appearance and temperament. Physically, there is a muscling, or bulking up that is unmistakable, particularly in the extremities. Temperamental behavioral changes may be more subtle at first. However, users soon begin to display unusually aggressive behavior, progressing over time to outright belligerent, antisocial attitudes and activities. Situations that never pose any cause for concern, or a threat to safety and security, increasingly appear threatening.

A drug-induced paranoia, accompanied by the urge for violent physical contact, begins to take hold with continued exposure to steroids. Yonkers Police Officer Wayne Simoes' behavior with respect to Irma Marquez, on March 3, 2007, in the presence of several other officers, was that kind of extreme and inappropriate violence.

The videotaped segment makes it abundantly clear that Officer Simoes was confronted with no physical threat, no imminent harm; and yet responded in a manner Calculated to bring Grievous injury, if not death, to Ms. Marquez. Any individual capable of such horrific violence, without provocation, is a "walking time bomb." A police officer so wired is a major catastrophe about to happen who needs to be immediately removed from active duty, disarmed and defused.

To be sure, the Yonkers Police Department is not the only department in Westchester with officers who have demonstrated extreme belligerence and violence toward innocent, non-threatening, civilians. However, it is a department where per-capita complaints of police brutality have been very high in number and often extreme in character.

In 2005 Tina Bostwick and her daughter Mary, then 72, and 49 years of age, were brutalized by the Yonkers Police simply for having called them to respond to a badly beaten and injured teen that had fled from a neighbor's house. Mary, the daughter, was physically attacked by a responding police officer, handcuffed, brought to the police station, and charged with the usual cover-up, bogus, charges, Disorderly Conduct, Obstruction Of Governmental Administration, Resisting Arrest, etc. She has suffered enormous post-traumatic stress symptoms, and gone through great expense over the last three years, as a result.

In 2006 Rui Florim, then 21, was hunted down and grabbed by six Yonkers police officers upon leaving his job in Hartsdale. Dressed in civilian clothing and using unmarked cars, they pulled Florim from the vehicle he was riding in, and threw him into one of their cars where four of them proceeded to beat him mercilessly about the face and head. He required 70 stitches and staples to close his wounds, and five days in St. Joseph's Hospital's intensive care unit, the entire time kept under police observation that physically barred his family and his attorney from seeing him.

Most recently revealed, Irma Marquez, body-slammed in July of 2007, lucky-to-be-alive after being thrown head-first onto a tile floor, suffers from memory loss, and loss of mental and physical function that will likely plague her rest of her life. What we see in the videotaped segment is a Yonkers police officer acting out with unjustifiable rage against an unarmed, defenseless, innocent woman.

As alarming as that act was, is the failure of any one of several other officers, visible at the scene, to attempt to prevent Officer Simoes' brutal, and clearly criminal, conduct. Apparently violence of that extreme nature against unarmed civilians was nothing that unusual in their experience. And, perhaps no one in the room had courage enough to stand up for human rights and professional police conduct against a virtual "madman".

The Bostwick, Florim and Marquez cases are but three of literally hundreds of incidents involving Yonkers Police brutality in the last three years alone; and those cases reported come only from those victims brave enough to come forward.

Sources have informed The Guardian of doctors with offices very close to St. John's Riverside Hospital who allegedly have supplied several Yonkers police officers with anabolic steroids, and other compounds, for years. However,in reality, those bent on using anabolic steroids can easily do so without the need to deal with a physician. In our December 27, 2007 edition we ran a two-page feature spotlighting legislation being developed at that time by New York State Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, designed to curtail the operation of so-called "Internet pharmacies," brought to light by the Mitchell Report on Drug Abuse in Major League Baseball.

Again, the Yonkers Police Department is clearly not alone with respect to the steroid problem. In January of this year, the NYPD was compelled to broaden its probe of steroid use amongst police officers when at least 27 officers' names came up as customers of Lowens Compounding Pharmacy in Brooklyn, a pharmacy known to have been illegally supplying steroids to professional athletes. Additionally, the

Brooklyn DA's Office opened an investigation into their operations. By April the NYPD announced that they were going to begin randomly testing their 36,000-officer force for steroid use. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly stated, "It only makes sense to include steroids," referencing the fact that the NYPD was already testing for narcotics.

We believe the time has come for the City of Yonkers, specifically Mayor Phil Amicone and his police commissioner, Edmund Hartnett, to get real with regard to their long-standing, pervasive police brutality problem. It is not now, nor has it ever been, an acceptable state of affairs that the police department is run like a paramilitary organization, striking fear in decent, hard-working citizens, rather than enlisting their cooperation, and assistance, in crime fighting and prevention.

We, therefore, strongly suggest that the following measures be immediately implemented:·

  • Routine, random testing for Anabolic steroids and other illegal drugs;·
  • Mandatory wearing of name plaques by every uniformed officer;·
  • Formation of a real Civilian Complaint Review Board, not under Police Department control.

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