The N.C. Labor Department has fined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department $7,000 in connection with the July death of a recruit, saying the agency failed to provide an environment free of hazards that could cause injury or death.
Jeremy Moseley, 29, died July 5 after collapsing during state-mandated physical fitness training at CMPD’s training academy on Shopton Road. Moseley died of heat stress, the Mecklenburg County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled.
The citation was issued Thursday and CMPD disclosed it Friday afternoon.
CMPD failed to provide a heat stress and prevention program for employees and recruits performing “strenuous physical training,” the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Division said in its citation. Employees and recruits were required to complete the training “in a high temperature, high humidity environment with no water provided, breaks not encouraged while wearing bullet proof vest.”
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The citation lists 10 heat-prevention measures for CMPD to implement, including daily water/fluid requirements and training to recognize signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
“The CMPD considers the findings of the report serious and continues to fully cooperate with the Department of Labor,” CMPD spokesman Rob Tufano said in a statement on Friday.
In response to the findings, CMPD is making several changes in recruit training but contests other parts of the report, Tufano said. While CMPD did not detail what in the report it was objecting to, it did say it will submit additional records to the Department of Labor regarding Moseley’s medical condition.
The medical examiner determined that Moseley’s pre-existing asthma “played a critical role in his death,” Tufano said in the statement. “The medical examiner also determined that Jeremy had been taking herbal dietary medications.”
Among the changes Tufano said CMPD is making in response to the Labor Department report:
▪ Providing CMPD Academy training staff with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “Using the Heat Index: A Guide for Employers.” Staff will review the guide “for a thorough understanding of employer responsibilities under hot and humid conditions.”
▪ Use of a planning checklist provided by OSHA to brief recruits on the relevance of safety and health issues.
▪ Having academy staff immediately begin monitoring the OSHA heat safety smartphone app relevant to temperature and heat index.
▪ Following guidelines in OSHA’s publication specific to acclimating recruits to warmer temperatures and humidity.
▪ Issuing water bottles to each recruit and having a five-gallon water cooler accessible during physical training.
▪ Retraining academy staff on recognizing signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
In its statement, CMPD said about 1,050 police officers have successfully completed and met the standards required to graduate the CMPD Training Academy since 2005.
“The CMPD will continue to review policy and practices to determine whether any additional changes would benefit our level of continued commitment to excellence and professionalism,” the department’s statement said. “The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department continues to ask our community to keep Jeremy Moseley’s family in their thoughts and prayers.”
The autopsy revealed “reactive airway disease and that based on his medical history and autopsy findings, the cause of Jeremy Moseley’s death was hyperthermia,” the CMPD statement said. Hyperthermia means overheating of the body.
Moseley had a temperature of 105.9 about two hours after falling, according to the autopsy.
The heat index was 90 to 95 degrees at Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 8:30 a.m. July 5, said Lauren Visin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C. That’s the time and day Moseley collapsed.
The heat index combines temperature and relative humidity. “That’s what the body feels,” Visin said of the index. Of an index in the 90s, she said: “If you’re doing strenuous exercise, that’s where you really have to start to worry.”
It was not immediately clear whether this is the first time the state Labor Department has fined CMPD.