Bedbugs found at Philadelphia police station
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Police officers across the city are being warned of a
frustratingly stubborn enemy that has infiltrated their workplace:
An infestation 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
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,
"At this point, we believe we're doing everything we can,"
Poplar said the entire building at Harbison Avenue and Levick
Street should have been treated for bedbugs. About 500 officers
work out of the building, he said, and the bugs may have hitched
rides with inmates who were transferred.
"These bugs, they can be carried on people," he said. "They can
be carried in a car, to another district. The holding cells have
people coming in and out all day long. We're talking about
potentially thousands of people who could be affected by this."
Officers will be asked to report any signs of infestation.
Employees who wish to take extra precautions can wash and dry their
clothes as soon as they get home from work, Schlotterbeck said.
Poplar said several officers had told him that they might have
unknowingly carried bugs home in their clothing. "These guys are
under enough stress as it is without worrying about taking bugs
home to their families," he said.
The bedbug resurgence began about 10 years ago in hotels and
apartment buildings in large cities nationwide. The bloodsucking
insects are known for resilience. Clothes and other belongings must
be heated to extreme temperatures to kill them, and the bugs can
hide in wooden furniture or baseboards for a year without food.
Though New York City has been seen as the center of the scourge,
the problem is on the rise here. Terminix, the national
exterminating company, this year ranked Philadelphia fifth among
U.S. cities for bedbugs, with New York still in first.