One more hypocrisy in the war on drugs: Cops like steroids. Makes 'em big. And mean.

This, of course, is no surprise to most gym rats.

A North Jersey newspaper recently laid it all out for the public in a three-part series. The Star-Ledger found at least 248 police officers and firefighters who were getting illegal prescriptions for human-growth hormone and anabolic steroids from one Jersey City physician.The officers and firefighters came from 53 different agencies and towns around the state.

The newspaper's data suggest a widespread problem, and state Attorney General Paula Dow, to her credit, responded immediately by naming eight people to a task force that will investigate the use of steroids by law-enforcement officers.

And the presidents of the state's two largest police unions, to their credit, said they would now support adding steroids to the other illegal drugs that officers are randomly tested for.

They know there is a problem. One of the union officials, Ed Brannigan, the head of the state chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, told the Star-Ledger that other officers and chiefs must know it, too.

"I've got to blame some of the police departments for this. They've got to be turning a blind eye to it. If you see someone going from 145 pounds to 210 pounds, you know something's wrong," he said.

Prescribing anabolic steroids for patients with hormone deficiencies is medically legitimate. But such hormone deficiencies are very rare. Taking steroids to increase muscle mass is illegal - and dangerous. Not only can steroids cause a host of physical problems, they also can increase aggression and recklessness - a particularly dangerous side effect for both juiced cops and the public they are protecting.

Then there's the sheer hypocrisy of the whole thing - drug warriors on illegal drugs themselves. And did we mention that the Star-Ledger found taxpayers were paying millions for these illegal steroids through the officers' state health plans?

Police officers on steroids are dangerous, and they are breaking the law. Steroids absolutely should be added to the list of drugs, like marijuana and cocaine, for which officers are subject to random testing. And the officials who run the state's law-enforcement agencies must stop turning a blind eye to this obvious problem.

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