Arlington police will undergo random drug testing

Posted Sunday, Sep. 15, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Arlington Police Department employees will undergo random drug and alcohol testing starting as early as next month after a federal investigation earlier this year involving possible illegal use of steroids by some officers.

The Arlington City Council has given initial approval for $60,000 in the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1, to expand the department’s drug testing policy to include all 640 sworn police officers. Previously, the department only required testing for new hires, for officers receiving promotions or for employees working in specific areas where they regularly come in contact with drugs, such as the narcotics unit, property room or the jail.

In June, the FBI arrested 17-year veteran police officer Thomas S. Kantzos, who they said had accessed law-enforcement-only databases to tip off a dealer from whom he had been buying steroids for himself and other officers for years that he was under police surveillance.

A second officer questioned by federal investigators, David Vo, committed suicide the day Kantzos was arrested. A third officer, Craig Hermans, resigned from the department in August after being placed on paid administrative leave in connection with the investigation.

Concerned that the steroid scandal would hurt the department’s credibility within the community, Arlington Police Chief Will Johnson announced the departmentwide policy change in June. Steroids are among illegal substances employees will be tested for, police spokesman Lt. Christopher Cook said.

“We have to earn the right to police our community every day. It’s important for the community to trust the officers that are serving them. When these allegations surfaced, damage to our legitimacy occurred and so we continue to diligently work to restore the public trust in everything we do,” Cook said. “The chief has made it very clear to all employees — illicit drug use will not be tolerated.”

Employee groups weighed in on the new drug-testing policy, which is expected to be signed by the chief by the end of the month.

“Expanding the tests to all sworn employees is an effort to reduce the possibility that an employee will engage in the use of illicit substances,” Johnson said.

The federal investigation began in January after a man arrested on charges of distributing anabolic steroids told authorities that he had sold steroids to Kantzos for five or six years, according to court records.

That man also told investigators that on at least one occasion, he delivered about 20 human growth hormone kits to Kantzos while the officer was on duty, in uniform and in his patrol car. Through that interview and a search of the informant’s phone, investigators determined that Kantzos had on multiple occasions solicited anabolic steroids for himself and others, including colleagues in the Arlington Police Department, records show.

Based on the information received from Kantzos, the man told federal investigators he began lying low after learned he was under police surveillance and discovered a tracking device on his vehicle.

Kantzos, who was indicted July 2 on a charge of unlawfully providing sensitive information by exceeding authorized access to a protected computer, was fired from the Arlington Police Department. His trial is set for Oct. 15 in federal court in Dallas, according to court records. If convicted, Kantzos faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Vo, who had been with the department for three years, had been arrested and released on the pending charges before taking his own life June 11 in the 2400 block of Park Run Drive near his home, police said.

Hermans, who was also a three-year veteran, was placed on paid administrative leave because he was being questioned as part of the investigation, Cook said. Hermans resigned from the department Aug. 8. He has not been arrested in connection with the incident, according to a search of court records.

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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