Needle attack on police chief

A McDonald, Pennsylvania, woman was arrested Wednesday afternoon after she allegedly pricked the police chief with a hypodermic needle. She is accused of sticking Police Chief Mark Dorsey as he took her into custody at on a drug paraphernalia charge.

I suppose if you’re going to hit out at a policeman you might as well aim for the Chief, but in this case the risk of sharps injury is far too great.

Dorsey was on patrol near the park when he was told by a witness that a man was reaching into the rafters of a pavilion. He approached the assailant, who was sitting on a park bench grasping a yellow, plastic shopping bag. When he asked her what was going on, she told him that her boyfriend was unplugging his cell phone from an outlet.

Dorsey saw the woman trying to conceal a metal spoon with the bag. She was ordered to show her hands, but failed to comply. When Dorsey tried to remove the spoon and other items from her, she resisted and pulled away. During the struggle, an exposed syringe penetrated the chief’s left thumb.

Confiscated were 10 empty stamp bags of heroin along with a spoon containing suspected heroin and three needles.

The woman was arraigned before District Judge Curtis Thompson on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct possession of heroin and drug paraphernalia. She was placed in Washington County Jail on $20,000 bond.

Dorsey was treated at St. Clair Memorial Hospital and released. But of course, it’s not so straightforward. The assailant was an IV drug abuser and the risk of Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and/or HIV must be high. The syringe and needle will presumably have been freshly used and the risk of bloodborne virus transmission and subsequent infection is high.

There will now follow months of agony for the policeman and his family. Blood tests, probably a short but intensive course of anti-HIV drugs and immunoglobulin injections if he did  not already have antibodies to Hepatitis B. For Hepatitis C, no preventative treatment is available, and for that he is quite simply on his own. So, for months, there will be repeated follow-up screening and the anxious wait for blood test results. The anxiety for the Chief and his loved ones will be palpable. We can do no more than wish him well.



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