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Officers sent to hospital due to drugs at Tippecanoe Co. Jail

According to Chief Deputy Steve Hartman, on Wednesday, three Tippecanoe County Correctional Officers were exposed to an unknown narcotic at the jail.

Posted: Jan. 11, 2018 10:19 AM
Updated: Jan. 15, 2018 11:16 AM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — According to Chief Deputy Steve Hartman, on Wednesday, three Tippecanoe County Correctional Officers were exposed to an unknown narcotic at the jail.

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News 18 began making calls to the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office starting Wednesday evening. After several unanswered calls and messages to Sheriff Barry Richard, Chief Deputy Steve Hartman, and other jail staff, Hartman sent out a press release Thursday morning.

Hartman said the incident began when it was discovered that an inmate had contraband hidden in his body cavity Wednesday.

Correctional officers dealt with the inmate, took him to a local hospital, and sent the drugs for testing. 

He said charges can't be filed until the lab identifies the drugs. 

Around noon Wednesday, correctional officers started showing signs of being exposed to narcotics. 

Hartman said it's likely they unknowingly touched the drugs. 

We are told all three officers were conscious and alert but Tippecanoe County EMS took them each to the hospital. 

Hartman said they were discharged hours later and were cleared to go back to work.

Because this is a pending case, the names involved are not available to us. If charges are filed, we will bring you more information. 

Hartman said they cannot connect the inmate who had drugs in his body cavity to the three correctional officers exposed because testing has not come back yet. 

He said the investigation continues. 

Two Tippecanoe County K-9s were brought into the jail to conduct a sweep for drugs but the press release does not specify when.

Hartman said the dogs did not alert to the presence of drugs at the time of the sweep. Other than the press release, News 18 has yet to hear from anyone at the jail about this matter.

"I find it to be a little crazy," said Parish Thomas. "They could take a little bit better measures in doing what they can do."

"I'm not surprised at all," said Fanesta Williams.

Fanesta Williams says her job with the Department of Child Services has given her a firsthand look the problem.

"I've had to take children on visits with their parents and I've seen inmates slipped all kinds of drugs during visits, I've seen just people walking around high off of various substances," she said.

"I mean it's the system we work in, everybody is trying to keep their job, keep the voters happy, so, that's just how it's all set up right now," said Williams.

News 18 will continue calling to hopefully get answers on this topic.

(January 15, 2017: A clarification: Fanesta Williams was referring to witnessing drug use and trafficking in other jails and correctional facilities in the past. We were referring to the problem of drugs in jails in general when using her as a source. Williams did not have first-hand knowledge of that activity in the Tippecanoe County Jail. WLFI regrets the lack of clarity in the original version of this story.)

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