After struggling to find an affordable lab to test Portland cops for steroids, the muscle-building substances will now be included when the city begins random drug tests on officers in July, according to City Hall's human-resources director.
Yvonne Deckard, head of the city's Bureau of Human Resources, tells WW the city has located a lab in Northern California that will process steroid tests for about $130 a pop. The city had previously been quoted per-test prices between $200 and $300, Deckard says.
As first reported in WW, the latest police-union contract contains for the first time an agreement for random drug testing. But when the contract was approved in February, steroids were tabled until the city could find an affordable lab.
Testing for cocaine, opiates, marijuana, PCP and methamphetamine were still set to proceed when the contract goes into effect in July. Tests for those substances alone are cheaper than for steroids—costing about $40 per test, Deckard says.
But police-oversight activists were concerned about excluding steroids because the compounds have been known to cause abnormal and aggressive behavior. Deckard vowed in February to continue seeking out an affordable solution.
"I made a commitment to Council," Deckard says. "I've just continued to work on it."
Deckard tells WW that City Commissioner Dan Saltzman was especially determined to test cops for steroids, even if it meant screening only 1 percent of the force.
Now, instead of settling for such a low number, Deckard says the city will perform 660 random drug tests per year on members of the Portland Police Association. That's the maximum number allowed under the contract with the PPA, which represents about 914 officers and sergeants.
In addition, the city's contract with the 45-member police command officers' union allows for 32 random drug tests per year. Deckard says those tests—including steroids—will also begin in July.
(Photo of Deckard courtesy of KATU)