A courtroom was evacuated in Detroit’s 36th District Court today, after the bailiff saw bed bugs crawling on a man who was there as a witness’s guest.
The judge told The Detroit News,
“I evacuated the courtroom today due to a man with live bedbugs for everybody’s well-being,” the judge said. She told her staff they were being sent home on “administrative leave,” because, she told them, “It’s not our fault.”
When a bailiff saw bedbugs crawling on the man, he was removed from the courtroom. Court officials then cleared out the front row in which he had been sitting, before the judge asked everyone to leave the room.
The man’s daughter, who did not give her name, said she knew there was a bedbug problem at her father’s house.
There’s always a chance in these cases that the suspected bed bugs were something else entirely.
In 2008, a West New York, New Jersey courthouse was evacuated due to what were first thought to be bed bugs. Later, the pest management professional was unable to determine if they were bed bugs, book lice or something else (more on that story here).
If the Detroit man did have bed bugs crawling on him in public, and they did come from his home, he probably has a serious bed bug problem.
This raises the question as to whether the man has sought treatment for the problem, or is having trouble getting treatment for some reason. We understand from Michigan’s helpful Manual for the Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs (PDF) that landlords are responsible for keeping buildings free of vermin in Michigan. If the man is a homeowner, however, he may be unable or unwilling to pay for treatment.
I hope that this man will soon be able to get some experienced, professional help in treating his home for bed bugs. No one should have to live with a bed bug problem. And clearly, if these are bed bugs, the situation poses a risk for others in the community also.
According to ABC7, the courtroom situation was being addressed by a pest control operator with a canine scent detection team. Anyone present at the courtroom today or in the near future should learn to recognize the signs of bed bugs, and inspect their homes.
A situation very similar to what happened today in Detroit also occurred in April 2011 in Trenton, New Jersey. In that case, like this one, a courtroom visitor was spotted with suspected bed bugs on his clothing and the court was evacuated.
The courtroom is open again.
Hopefully the PCO will be following up!