Cute or Catastrophic: Officer Safety in Encounters with Exotic Species

Law enforcement officials throughout the world have increasingly become aware of risks to officer’s health and safety through contact with people, chemicals, and explosive materials that can occur during routine patrols and focused investigations. Examples of the more unusual, but serious, risks faced by officers include exposure to diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, or tuberculosis through human blood or breath; exposure to dangerous chemicals through illegal drug laboratories and the manufacture of methamphetamine and other illicit substances; and exposure to explosives associated with extremist groups or active shooter events. Most law enforcement agencies train their officers to be aware of such risks and to know the appropriate steps to minimize such risks. Yet many of those same agencies are unaware of or untrained in the risks to officer safety through exposure to exotic species.