JASON RANTZ

Cop stuck with dirty needle at Seattle park, fears disease diagnosis

Oct 26, 2018, 6:00 AM | Updated: 9:30 am
dirty needle...
An SPD officer in an unrelated case disposes of a used needle found on the street. (Jason Rantz, KTTH)
(Jason Rantz, KTTH)

A police officer was stuck in the foot with a dirty needle while walking through a Seattle park on patrol this past Monday. Now, he’s receiving intense treatment to protect him from diseases, including HIV and Hepatitis, renewing concerns over police and resident safety in Seattle parks.

“This officer was simply walking through the grassy field of a city park, near where children were playing, when he stepped on the needle, which was hidden in the grass,” Sgt. Rich O’Neil, vice president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “The officer was taken to the hospital and is now undergoing ongoing, debilitating treatment to prevent HIV and other diseases.”

The officer works with the Navigation Team, the SPD’s unit that focuses on Seattle homelessness.

According to SPOG, the officer was on a routine walk through of Baker Park, a tiny residential park in the Crown Hill neighborhood. As the officer was walking, he felt a sharp pain between his toes that became so strong, he wasn’t able to stand.

Upon inspection, the officer saw a needle hub on the sole of his work boot. After removing the needle, the officer and his partner immediately traveled to a nearby hospital, along with the needle, so that it could be tested. He was met by colleagues at the hospital, who offered him moral support as he became concerned and was described as in a bit of shock, according to a SPOG source.

Protocol

The medical protocol following exposure is lengthy and emotional. The officer is currently taking an anti-HIV cocktail, followed by additional tests to see what diseases he may have been exposed to.

“The men and women of the Seattle Police Department put themselves on the line every day and one of the hazards of working in public safety is the risk of injury,” Sgt Sean Whitcomb of the SPD told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “We’re very disheartened that this officer was injured and all of us here are hoping for a speedy recovery.”

Will Lemke, spokesperson for the Navigation Team, tells me that members have “…boots and footwear that are supposed to be resistant to water, mud, human waste, needles, etc. and we take measures to prevent these types of incidents.” Though it’s not required, officers can insert steel shanks, reimbursed by the SPD, for added protection.

“This incident is the first I’ve known of on the Navigation Team and we’re taking it very seriously. We’re concerned about it, the issue with the officer is being addressed…” Lemke said.

Though he can’t get into specific details due to privacy concerns for the officer, Lemke notes that, especially after an incident like this, the team has routine meetings to discuss safety precautions.

“There are trainings, we have a dispatch meeting every morning where we talk about the different challenges that are out there,” Lemke says. “These things are of concern. These hazards are out there. It can happen in a park, it can happen in an encampment, it can happen on the street. The city tries to have needle pickup … and we take it very seriously.”

A dirty needle in a park

The particular rub in this case is the park appeared clean and free of homeless.

While incidences of cops getting stuck are rare, it highlights the concern that Seattleites are at risk. Indeed, even a clean park could hide some extremely dangerous hazards, a consequence of the city’s alarming drug crisis.

“[The officer] commented that to take the meds you have to be at least 57 pounds which would eliminate most children,” SPOG’s O’Neil told me. “He wasn’t cleaning up anything. Simply walking through the park. This could have easily happened to any of the children playing nearby. This incident highlights how dangerous Seattle has become not only for our citizens, but for our officers and other first responders.”

The officer told SPOG that he would rather it be him that got suck, instead of a child enjoying the park. He has kids and fears for their safety even more after this incident.

Just weeks ago, another father, former FBI operative and current Seattle City Council candidate Naveed Jamali, was walking in Seattle, near the waterfront, when his young children found needles and used condoms in the open.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday mornings from 6-9 a.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

tacoma, officers, tacoma police, manny ellis, Urquhart...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Police staffing crisis in Tacoma is nearly as bad as Seattle, morale ‘decimated’

The Tacoma Police Department is dramatically understaffed as crime continues to surge across the city. Police officers are now sounding the alarms.
19 hours ago
vaccinations...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Inslee firing thousands isn’t about health – it’s about forced vaccinations

Governor Jay Inslee's COVID-19 vaccine mandate isn't about public health. It's about power and forced vaccinations. 
2 days ago
Troyer...
KTTH staff

Pierce County Sheriff Troyer says he knew charges were ‘coming since day one’

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer joins the Jason Rantz Show to react to two misdemeanor charges against him from the attorney general's office.
2 days ago
troyer...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: State AG charges Pierce County Sheriff with 2 misdemeanors after ‘unusual’ move

Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office is readying misdemeanor charges against Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. The filing could come as early as Tuesday.
3 days ago
police, consent decree...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Seattle mayor downplays crisis, falsely says only 24 officers didn’t turn in vaccine paperwork

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan told reporters on Monday that "only about two dozen officers have not put in their [vaccine] paperwork" ahead of the midnight deadline.
3 days ago
unvaccinated officers Seattle...
KTTH staff

Seattle mayor: ‘About two dozen’ SPD officers have yet to submit proof of vaccination

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and interim Chief Adrian Diaz both submitted final pleas to unvaccinated officers over the weekend. 
3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
...
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
...
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.
...
Comcast

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at www.ComcastRISE.com for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
Cop stuck with dirty needle at Seattle park, fears disease diagnosis