St. Matthews Police buy gear to protect officers from getting stuck with needles
ST. MATTHEWS, Ky. (WDRB) -- The needles people are carrying to use heroin are becoming a growing threat to police. The St. Matthews Police Department says two officers have been stuck by needles in the past few months so they've added another layer of protection.
"A few years ago, it's nothing that we even thought about," Public Information Officer Dennis McDonald said about heroin.
But now he says heroin is more like an epidemic and it's a drug that's putting them at risk.
"Police officers are being exposed to needle sticks, needle pricks, those kinds of things, more and more often," McDonald said.
Officers ask suspects if they have anything sharp on them before a search but not everyone is honest. LMPD has dealt with the problem too. We're told of nine of its officers were stuck this year.
In one case earlier this month, the suspect later tested positive for Hepatitis C. Once an officer is stuck, he or she must undergo months of testing.
"As you can imagine, it's a nightmare," McDonald said. "These police officers are suddenly thrown into a situation where they're unsure about their health."
So the St. Matthews Police department just bought new gloves. They're thick and called 'puncture protective.' The gloves have an extra layer of material on the finger tips.
"They're not completely resistant but they do add a layer of protection," McDonald said.
He says they cost about $50 a pair and they were issued to the department's roughly 40 officers, bringing the total cost to about $2,000. McDonald says the gloves came in last week and they're already in use.
"They're just part of their duty equipment that they have on them and in their police cars and they're being used when police officers are conducting searches," McDonald said.
Police say another problem they're seeing is needles left on the ground.
If you see one, you're asked not to touch it and to call authorities.
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