Ottawa

Working in police cellblock hazardous: officer

An Ottawa police officer wants the public to know that working in the police station cellblock can be dangerous.

An Ottawa police officer wants the public to know that working in the police station cellblock can be dangerous.

Special Const. Carlos Olivera said he has to take a cocktail of drugs in case he was infected with the HIV virus or hepatitis C after an incident in the cellblock in December.

He came forward with his story because of recent news coverage of a video showing another special constable kicking Ottawa woman Stacy Bonds after she was arrested in 2008.

Bonds is suing Ottawa police for $1.2 million over her treatment.

Olivera said that on Dec. 17, he was searching a man in the cellblock when a dirty needle in the man's sweater pricked his finger.

It turned out the man is a drug addict and has HIV and hepatitis C, Olivera said.

"No word to explain, after you get pricked by a guy knowing that the guy is HIV and hep C positive," Olivera said. "So my life [goes] down in like five seconds, yeah."

Olivera wasn't working when Bonds was arrested but said the public doesn't understand what police face every day in the cellblock area.

"Kicked, spit and hit, that's a normal day over there," he said. "So, normally the people, a large percent, are high on drugs or drunk, so that's the people you need to take care of."

A former fighter pilot with the Cuban Air Force, Olivera has worked in the cellblock for four years. He said he can't wait to get back to work.

"I love it. I got a great team, and Ottawa police like a second family to me, like a brotherhood."

Olivera will start getting tests next week to see if he's contracted HIV or hepatitis C. He'll have to be tested for another five months before doctors can give him a clean bill of health.