Bedbug threat sidelines police cars

Jul 13, 2012, 13:27 PM by User Not Found
Bethlehem officers investigating a death saw the bedbugs in woman's home.

Bethlehem officers investigating a death saw the bugs in woman's home.

By Pamela Lehman, Of The Morning Call

Bethlehem police had to take four vehicles out of service for a few days for a possible bedbug contamination, an official said.

The vehicles were parked after officers were called to a death investigation shortly after midnight Friday in the 1000 block of Carlisle Street, said police Capt. David Kravatz.

The woman's death is not suspicious, police said. While inside her home, officers saw bedbugs, Kravatz said.

Four vehicles used by officers on the call were taken out of service until they could be treated for a possible bedbug contamination. By Monday afternoon, the vehicles had been decontaminated and thoroughly washed before they were put back on the road.

"It was a precautionary measure and a courtesy to our officers to take those vehicles out of service to make sure that if there are bedbugs, they don't spread anywhere else," Kravatz said.

A handful of vehicles have been taken out of service before to be treated for possible bedbug infestations, and that problem could increase due to recent record-high temperatures, Kravatz said.

But dirty police vehicles are hardly unusual and are a less-than-glamorous aspect of police work that the public may not often see, he said.

Officers are often subjected to unsanitary conditions including garbage, fleas, roaches and ticks.

Any call involving a skunk may take a police vehicle out of commission for a few days, Kravatz said.

Skunks spotted during the day are often put down by police officers, for fear the animals may be rabid. But he said some officers may be willing to remove a smelly skunk carcass to help a distressed resident.

"I've had new officers even double-bag the skunk, thinking that would contain the smell," he said. "That never works. Even though the car is scrubbed clean, it seems like that smell lingers for days."

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