Hurricane Police chief: Officers’ exposure to hepatitis results in ‘costly and drawn-out process’

Hurricane City Council members during a meeting Thursday, June 6, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

HURRICANE — At a Hurricane City Council meeting Thursday night, topics of discussion included leash laws, registration of sex offenders and police officers coming into contact with a contagious disease.

During the department reports section of the meeting, Hurricane Police Chief Lynn Excell said he wanted to make sure council members were aware that there have been a few instances recently of police officers being exposed to people who have hepatitis while making arrests.

“It’s starting to be quite a costly and drawn-out process,” Excell told the council, adding that once officers come in contact with the disease, they have to receive testing and shots, as well as be retested in six months.

Hepatitis, a highly contagious liver disease, can often be spread by the exposure of bodily fluids, like blood. Excell said due to the exposure, dry cleaners in the area are refusing to clean uniforms that have blood on them — causing the department to burn the uniforms instead.

Excell said the exposure has happened a few times over the past couple of months.

Leash laws were also a topic of discussion for council members after a Hurricane resident was issued a class B misdemeanor for having his dog off a leash in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. The man said he was told he would only receive a citation.

Council member Pam Humphries asked the resident what the signs at the reserve state, and he admitted that they indicate dogs have to be on leashes at all times.

Hurricane Mayor John Bramall said the leash laws are regulated by Washington County, not Hurricane City, under the habitat conservation agreement.

“The decision of the county and of the BLM was to enforce the leash laws because they issued over 1,400 warnings without people ever changing behavior,” Bramall said, adding that officers from Washington County Sheriff’s Office began ticketing people.

Among the council’s action items was unanimously approving a $25 fee that the Hurricane City Police Department can charge sex offenders when they register each year. The state of Utah has approved for law enforcement agencies to charge the fee.

Excell said Hurricane currently has 39 registered sex offenders.

The council also unanimously approved a full-service restaurant liquor license for Pig’s Ear American Bistro, which owners said is scheduled to open in September.

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