Drunk or diabetic? E-mail
Written by APB Staff   

If you really want to understand just how challenging law enforcement can be, consider the following scenario. You’re on patrol at night and you observe a vehicle weaving in an out of designated lanes. Another shift, another DUI. You make the stop and the driver attempts to exit the vehicle. The operator is clearly drunk and waves wildly at you as he approaches your position.

He yells something unintelligible as he reaches out to grab you.   

You subdue the suspect, along with responding officers. It’s only then that someone says, “He’s a diabetic!”

According to a recent article posted on New Jersey.com, several New Jersey lawmakers said they will investigate how New Jersey troopers and other police officers are trained to recognize and handle victims of diabetic shock.

The investigation comes on the heels of an article in the Sunday Star-Ledger about how troopers wrestled a Pennsylvania man to the ground because they failed to recognize he was suffering from diabetic shock.

The man, Daniel Fried, says he sustained a broken wrist as well as cuts and bruises when troopers took him to the ground. He’s suing the State Police for damages in federal court.

In court documents, the troopers said they received no training in identifying and helping people in diabetic shock. They also say they did not see a medical alert bracelet or know to check for it.

About one in ten New Jersey residents suffer from diabetes.

"Clearly, this is an issue of concern and something that needs to be dealt with considering so many of our residents struggle with diabetes and their needs must be respected," Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said in a statement Wednesday.

Oliver (D-Essex) added her caucus will be "researching the best way to resolve this concern, and whether it’s done administratively or through legislation, I expect to see improvement when it comes to awareness."

Mr. Fried, 46, of Springfield, Pa., was driving home from his shore house on Long Beach Island when he suffered low blood sugar and pulled over. State Police Trooper Paul Brown responded to a report of an erratic driver and found Fried's van on the side of the road.

Brown suspected Fried may be suffering from diabetes. But a second trooper, Scott Tetzlaff, arrived and Brown did not mention his suspicions of a medical problem. He also did not mention the odd symptoms Fried was displaying.

About 20 years ago, as a Jersey City police officer, Assemblyman Charles Mainor told reporters that he thought a man in diabetic shock was drunk. Doctors say the symptoms are similar and people suffering from diabetic shock often can’t communicate their problem.

"I was about to issue tickets, not giving him the attention he needed," said Mainor, chairman of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

"But my partner understood. For the grace of God, we saved a life that day."

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester), who is diabetic himself and has experienced low blood sugar, said in a statement that proper training and awareness "can mean the difference between life and death."

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