CPD taking measures to protect officers from exposure to dangerous drugs
CINCINNATI, Ohio (WKRC) - When Cincinnati police officers were exposed to what was believed to be heroin, they ended up at University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
Two probation officers were also exposed a few days later. A rise in heroin cut with fentanyl and carfentanil has prompted changes and how officers deal with drugs.
"It's education. It's not only gloves, but double gloves and then reversing them, disposing them properly and not in the garbage can at the scene, but you have to put them in a plastic bag, put them in a disposable spot at the district. Then we are looking at masks. If you think of a surgical mask or a dental mask and again to keep the powder from coming in," said Captain Jeffrey Butler of the Cincinnati Police Department.
Recently in Hamilton County, officers found seven grams of fentanyl during a traffic stop. It's a widespread problem. Newtown Police Chief Tom Synan is also a member of the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition. His officers have changed the way they handle drugs.
"If we suspect heroin, we will not process that and we're just not going to do anything with that. We are not going to field test it. We're not going to open it," Synan said. "We will put on protective equipment which could be gloves or the new trend right now is to double glove, just in case something rips in that glove and also we have thicker needle resistant gloves."
Officers have Narcan in case they come in contact with something and can use it if they feel sick. Usually officers have no way of knowing for certain what's in the drugs they find. So they are adapting to the changes.
"They are going into harm's way, doing all the real hard work. I'm doing the administrative stuff. It's how can I use my position to make sure they go home at night," said Butler.
Captain Butler says the department continuously checks to update the way they deal with drugs to stay current.
Chief Synan says the Hamilton County Coroner has identified 10 different variations of fentanyl. He says the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition continues to collect data to stay informed.