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Narcan or not? Incident at CPS lab has Comptroller, County Executive trading words

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Erie County Comptroller's Office
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An Erie County Central Police Services forensic lab worker is back on the job, after investigators say the individual received two doses of Narcan following an feared accidental drug exposure. The incident has sparked a dispute between the Erie County Comptroller and County Executive, who offered conflicting claims about whether CPS had its own Narcan available.

On Wednesday, the CPS employee was counting glassine envelopes of what was believed to be a heroin-fentanyl mix. According to a report filed by the Erie County Sheriff's Office, the worker began complaining of dizziness and feeling light-headed and then attempted to sit down.

Buffalo Fire was among the first responders who arrived on the scene and, according to the report, administered two doses of naloxone, also known as Narcan. 

"Thankfully this county employee is OK," said Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw. "We have a lot of questions for the Commissioner of Central Police Services, about why the Buffalo Fire Department had to be called to deliver Narcan when at that time, according to law enforcement, none was available."

County Executive Mark Poloncarz, meanwhile, says CPS did have Narcan available and the staff are trained to use it. He says CPS personnel informed him it was their own people who administered the drug.

"The staff is trained into the application of Narcan, just for this situation," he said. "There's a whole lot of false reports. The Comptroller is supposed to be looking at dollars and cents."

Poloncarz added that the investigation continues, while Mychajliw's letter and news release are filled with falsehoods. He also pointed out that it's the acts of a fellow county official who has offered hints of interest in running for county executive next year.

"I was the county comptroller, so I know what the comptroller's roles are," Poloncarz said. "The comptroller, I'm sure, himself doesn't even know how to administer Narcan. But the staff at Central Police Services does."

Poloncarz further suggested that while he has toured the CPB laboratories, Mychajliw hasn't. That drew a written reply from the comptroller's office: "Many times, I’ve seen firsthand how dangerous the job is for law enforcement and lab technicians that handle deadly drugs at Central Police Headquarters. Once following a drug raid, Sheriff Howard himself showed me how careful officers and lab techs must be when handling these substances. I’ve also toured the lab before as part of the Sheriff’s Citizens Academy. I’m very concerned about the health and safety of our county employees, especially the Forensic Chemist whose life was saved this week by being delivered multiple doses of Narcan when this person was exposed to heroin/fentanyl."

Mychajliw, in a letter to the CPS commissioner, stated that he wants answers by next Tuesday. He has also written to the Erie County Legislature to express his concerns.

 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.