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Officer Stabbed with Dirty Drug Needle

Monday, November 21, 5:50 p.m.
By Julie Sidoni

A police officer doing a routine pat down of a suspect could now be facing a potentially life-threatening disease. He was making sure the suspect wasn't armed when he was stabbed with a used drug needle.

The incident has a police department rethinking how safe all police officers really are out there and it has the patrolman quite literally wondering what the next six months or so will bring.

Officer Tom Eibach, 25, of the Scott Township Police Department has been on the force just a few years. Now he's facing the scare of his life.

&quotIt's tough. I felt sick to my stomach as soon as I was stuck," Eibach recalled.

He was working for the Blakely Police Department a few days ago when he had to arrest a man on suspicion of stealing prescription drugs. That man was Steven Blanchard, 26, of Dickson City.


Officer Eibach said he specifically asked Blanchard if he had a weapon or a needle. Blanchard said no, but moments later plunged a dirty heroin needle into the officer's hand, right through a protective glove he was wearing.

&quotI have to follow up now, three weeks, six weeks, six months with HIV testing and hepatitis testing every four to six months," Eibach explained.

Scott Township Chief James Romano called the incident a potential tragedy and a jolt into reality. &quotWe've had incidents where officers have been hurt but we've never had a situation where there's a possibility he could have a life-threatening disease over a simple pat down of someone."

Blanchard was arraigned on separate criminal mischief and theft charges. There is no word what charges he will face for the dirty needle incident.

In the meantime, Chief Romano said he now wants all of his officers to get hepatitis shots.

&quotWe're going to have to take a good long look at more protective gear. Better gloves. He had gloves that protected him on the bottom but where the needle went through was the side," the chief added.


Both the chief and Officer Eibach said what happened with the dirty needle is a symptom of an issue that's getting bigger every day, which is heroin use in the area.

They said as the number of heroin arrests rise so will incidents like this one.