TRENTON — By Isaac Avilucea — July 25, 2019
Prisoners at police lockup were given a cruel and unusual punishment.
They endured a bedbug infestation, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The city said it has made efforts to eliminate the creepy crawlers which had reportedly taken up residence in some of the cells at Trenton Police lockup, feasting on detainees and city workers.
Employees in lockup brought their concerns to the police administration and the union.
Mayor Reed Gusciora was unaware of the infestation until The Trentonian reached him for comment Thursday.
He reached out to police director Sheilah Coley and then called the newspaper back to assure that the bedbug problem was being handled and under control.
“It’s an unfortunate occurrence of city life,” he said.
The mayor’s spokesman, Connor Ilchert, released a statement later in the day saying, “TPD has been looked over by exterminators and inspectors, and has been sprayed twice to satisfy any complaints. The issue is continuing to be monitored to ensure that city employees are operating in a safe working environment.”
Ilchert said exterminators treated the lockup area July 5 and again July 11. Bedbug infestations can be difficult to eliminate and sometimes require several treatments.
Workers complained to brass and union officials fearing the creepy crawlers might tag along on their clothes, causing an infestation at their homes.
City police union president Michael Schiaretti declined to comment on the infestation saying the city appeared to be taking care of the problem. He planned to monitor the issue.
Bedbugs are just one of the issues that have recently hampered deteriorating Trenton infrastructure. Engine 8 firehouse on Stuyvesant Avenue was temporary shuttered due to safety concerns.
Firefighters were relocated to another firehouse for a few days until the city corrected the structural issues with the floor. The firehouse has since reopened.
As far as the critters, the city is hardly alone in dealing with them. They’ve been discovered at several buildings in the Trenton area over the years.
In 2016, the Mercer County Board of Social Services dealt with them in 2016. Officials there fell victim to an urban legend recommending employees use Bounce dryer sheets to wipe down clothing to eradicate the pests.
That prompted Proctor and Gamble, the maker of the Bounce dryer sheets, to release a statement to The Trentonian debunking the myth.
The blood-sucking parasites were also discovered that year in at least three state buildings, including at the Department of Health.
Ann Klein Forensic Center in Trenton also suffered a bedbug invasion in 2015.