Pittsburgh police in Highland Park hope to catch more than just criminals this week.
Officials say the Zone 5 station on Washington Boulevard is infested with rats, and they are hoping bait traps catch the potentially disease-spreading rodents before they multiply.
“It’s definitely a hazard,” said Officer Howard McQuillan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1. “There are people who work in that station who don’t leave, like the desk officer, the civilian clerks… not to mention all the officers who go in for roll call.”
Zone 5 brass sent a letter to police command staff last month notifying them of the problem, McQuillan said. The city responded by having a third-party pest control company set bait traps to catch the vermin, he said.
Sonya Toler, spokeswoman for the city’s Department of Public Safety, said a hole in a Dumpster attracted the rats, and an exterminator has been trying to rid the station of the four-legged interlopers. The Dumpster has been replaced, she said.
McQuillan said he believes the city responded quickly, but he remains concerned that rat droppings could make officers sick.
Rodents can transmit several diseases directly and indirectly, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That includes lyme disease, West Nile virus and the plague.
“They should probably have someone come in and clean,” McQuillan said. “If there are issues inside the station, it needs to be addressed and not just pushed aside.”
Toler said each city-owned building has its own cleaning service and was not sure whether they had been called for additional cleaning.