FORT WORTH — Sex drive. Mental focus. Energy.
All were topics of discussion at a recent voluntary Wellness Seminar for Fort Worth police officers. Chief Jeffrey Halstead called the meeting to share his testimony about testosterone.
He said he didn't have enough, and hit rock bottom, until he was treated with hormone therapy.
Halstead said he believes some of his officers may be better officers with a hormone adjustment. But is the product he's sharing safe?
A police chief works long hours and has to make some tough decisions. Managing hundreds of police officers is a challenge.
But recently, Halstead noticed something in his life was off. "Stress of the job, long hours and work — everything was getting pulled from both ends," he said.
So the chief turned to SottoPelle Pellet Therapy to boost his testosterone levels.
The therapy starts with a small incision under the skin. A pellet containing testosterone is inserted to raise levels of the hormone.
Halstead said he now feels great again, and to share his success, he created a voluntary wellness program for the entire Fort Worth Police Department and invited the SottoPelle team.
"When your boss tells you to be there for the wellness seminar, a lot of people do show up," Halstead said. "But afterwards, it was amazing: Five of them texted me and told me that was a very important day to them."
Halstead released the content of one of those messages:
"Thanks chief for bringing in the group today at all-staff. I will be checking this out to hopefully assist me in my personal life."
Among the topics at the seminar? Sex, because an increase in hormone levels increases sex drive.
"It may be uncomfortable for many other people in my position, but I have absolutely no problems whatsoever discussing this," Halstead said, adding that the information was for the betterment of his officers.
"My benefit in sharing this? I'm going to have a better K-9 officer, a better SWAT officer, better police executives, and people who are going to have better retirements," the chief said.
News 8 checked with independent sources about the product Chief Halstead is sharing with officers. Five North Texas doctors with expertise in hormones — representing five different hospitals and clinics — all agreed, first and foremost, that the Chief's testosterone level is too high.
He went from 125, which experts said is too low, to nearly 1,000. On average, the doctors said levels should not exceed 400 to 500.
That means Halstead has twice the testosterone they would recommend.
But Dr. Gary Donovitz, who represents SottoPelle, says his team never overdoses hormones, and maintains there is extensive blood work for each patient.
"We weren't jacking with his hormones like you would anabolic steroids," Donovitz said. "We're simply trying to return him and other men to where they should be when they were 30 with normal testosterone."
UT Southwestern endocrinologist Dr. Richard Auchus says the chief is encouraging a socially acceptable form of narcotics.
"There are a number of other psychological changes that occur, particularly when there is an abrupt rise from lowish levels to high levels," Auchus said. "Those include increased aggression, and some people become psychotic on it."
Dr. Donovitz said doctors who don't like his organization's product usually haven't done the research. He says the therapy does just the opposite of what Dr. Auchus suggested.
"It's going to lower their aggressiveness, because people with low testosterone levels — specifically males — are much more irritable, much more anxious," Donovitz said.
He said the pellets are all-natural, plant-derived, and safe.
Dr. Auchus doesn't buy that explanation. "Any time you take a man and you increase his testosterone levels, he experiences a euphoria from that," Auchus said. It's a euphoria he worries could become addictive.
A specialist at Texas Health Arlington said "cocaine is also a plant; I wouldn't give the to my patients."
Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas called the SottoPelle treatment "mis-marketing and inappropriate."
Even a wellness clinic that supports hormone replacement acknowledges that "men can become angry."
A Texas Health Dallas doctor believes "there are red flags all over it."
Chief Halstead says his hope is simple: To keep officers out of trouble.
"Usually you'll see officers divert to other not-so-popular behaviors, and I think they do that because they were where I was — nothing was giving any satisfaction," Halstead said.
The City of Fort Worth backs its police chief:
"...it was a voluntary presentation and similar to many of the wellness programs offered to employees. What was presented was one of many wellness options available, and in no way was an endorsement of any product."
Chief Halstead chief gets his testosterone pellets replaced every few months, but says he is not getting any kickbacks from SottoPelle.He says finding a hormonal balance can help keep his officers in shape to meet the new demands of their contract.
Officers are now subject to a physical fitness test. If they fail, they could lose their jobs.