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Officer hospitalized after being exposed to toxic drug at Cayuga Correctional Facility

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

An officer was taken to a local hospital after showing signs of exposure to suspected drugs that were seized from an inmate on Tuesday at Cayuga Correctional Facility in Moravia.

The incident began when an officer ordered the inmate to submit to a pat frisk for contraband inside the dayroom of one of the facility dorms. The inmate complied and a ceramic razor blade was located inside his pants pocket.

After the razor blade was seized, the inmate was being transported to a Special Housing Unit when one of the escort officers noticed an object in the inmate’s hand. The officer ordered the inmate to surrender the object and he complied. The object was a plastic bag that contained a green leafy substance and a folded piece of paper that contained five pills.

The suspected drugs were seized, and the inmate was placed in a Special Housing Unit pending disciplinary charges. He is serving an eight-year sentence after being convicted in New York County in 2018 for Robbery 1st.

Shortly after the seizure, one of the escort officers began to feel lightheaded and dizzy. He reported to the infirmary, where one of the medical staff determined he was experiencing symptoms from exposure to the suspected drugs. Narcan was administered at the facility as a precaution, and the officer was transported by ambulance to Auburn Community Hospital for further treatment and evaluation.

He was later released from the hospital.

The drugs were turned over to investigators, and it has not been determined the exact content of the drugs.

“As we continue to call for the repeal of the HALT Act amid the skyrocketing violence in our correctional facilities, the dangers staff face every day come in other forms as well. Contraband, specifically dangerous drugs like K2 and Fentanyl, continue to get into the hands of inmates. Our members do an excellent job of detecting and seizing the drugs but the incident at Cayuga illustrates the dangers for staff after just being exposed to these lethal drugs for mere seconds. On more than one occasion, we have had numerous officers need to be administered Narcan after losing consciousness and transported to hospitals after exposure to these drugs. The re-installment of the Secure Vendor Program is a step in the right direction to limit contraband, but our elected leaders certainly need to make it a priority to protect our members from this type of situation,” stated Kenny Gold, NYSCOPBA Western Region Vice President.

The incident highlights the dangers that staff face while working in correctional facilities and the need for proper measures to be taken to ensure their safety.