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Specialized NYPD training suspended after officers fall ill

March 19, 2002

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Specialized NYPD training suspended after officers fall ill

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NEW YORK (AP) _ Police officials were still trying to determine Wednesday what caused 12 officers taking a specialized training course to exhibit unusually high enzyme levels in their blood, but they are focusing on intensive exercise.

Of the 12 officers, five remained hospitalized Wednesday.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly suspended the training until further notice Tuesday night and ordered all 28 officers taking part in the course and four Police Academy trainees to undergo further testing.

More than 5,500 other officers have undergone the training over the past five years and have not fallen ill, Kelly said.

The 12 officers began the three-to-five day training "Uniformed Members of the Service Performing Enforcement Duties in Plainclothes" last Wednesday. The course teaches self-defense and proper techniques in punching and kicking as well as how to disarm and handcuff a suspect.

Dr. Gregory Fried, the NYPD's executive chief surgeon, and Dr. Michael Colin, a rheumatologist at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, believe that the elevated enzyme levels are "consistent with muscle damage associated with intense exercise," according to an NYPD news release.

So far, there are no known environmental causes for the high enzyme levels, but Kelly has asked the department's Occupational Safety & Health Unit to conduct environmental testing at the academy and at the 6th Precinct station house, where nine of the 12 affected officers are assigned. The NYPD has also asked the city's Department of Environmental Protection to conduct environmental tests at both locations.

On Friday, three officers complained of muscle soreness and abnormally dark urine, and were sent to the hospital, where it was determined that their enzyme levels were too high. According to the release, some medical experts say elevated enzyme levels can be caused by intense exercise and that the darkened urine is a sign of a chemical called Myoglobin, which represents a breakdown product of muscle destruction.

The release also said that the enzyme levels in a healthy person range from one to 200 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Some of the officers had levels in excess of 100,000 nanograms per milliliter.

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