Bed bugs hit Philadelphia police holding cells

by nobugsonme on July 13, 2011

in bed bug blame game, bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, bed bugs in courtrooms and courthouses, spread of bed bugs

Only a week after NYPD’s 120th Precinct in Staten Island found bed bugs in its cells (more on that here), a similar situation has been brought to light in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday that

An infestation [of bed bugs] was discovered last week in the building in Mayfair that houses the Second and 15th Police Districts and the Northeast Detective Division.

The bedbugs came to light after inmates in several holding cells were bitten, said Roosevelt Poplar, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge No. 5.

An exterminator treated the infested areas twice, and the department’s administration is closely monitoring the situation, said Lt. Raymond Evers of the Public Affairs Unit.

Joan Schlotterbeck, the city’s public property commissioner, said that one inmate had brought the bugs to the building and that an exterminator believed the infestation was confined to three cells.

Those cells have wooden benches that are different from those in other units, she said. They will be removed.

The cell block has been evacuated. Cells will be power-washed, crevices will be sealed, and the walls will be repainted, Schlotterbeck said.

“At this point, we believe we’re doing everything we can,” Schlotterbeck said.

However, the Inquirer also reports that Poplar (the F.O.P. representative cited above) expressed concern about bed bugs having potentially “hitched rides” with inmates being taken elsewhere, or with some of the 500 officers who work in the building.

And rightly so.

Areas near the cells, and vehicles used to transport the inmates, are all especially at risk.

(Transport vans used to move inmates, and the courtroom they were taken to after leaving the precinct, were both areas of concern in the recent Staten Island case.)

Schlotterbeck is quoted above as claiming that one inmate brought the bed bugs in, though they were found in three cells.

Now, I’m not sure how they determined that this precise chain of events occurred, or how they verified no other locations were affected, but it’s clear from this statement that local officials are aware bed bugs can spread easily.

Police working in the building or in transporting prisoners should be extra vigilant at work and at home.  Employing some inexpensive passive monitors at home (see this FAQ) is not a bad idea for anyone who is at risk of bed bugs.

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