NEW YORK -- When PIX 11 News posted two NYPD training videos on our Facebook page this past Tuesday, we immediately started getting comments about one of them.
One viewer essentially said, “Hey, I saw that video on ‘COPS’ years ago.”
The guy in the video had a history of smoking PCP. The NYPD training tape is being used to warn cops about people who get violent from smoking K2, a form of synthetic marijuana.
The Facebook posters were right.
One of the videos the NYPD is using to illustrate people exhibiting “Excited Delirium Syndrome” is from 2002, showing a naked man running crazy in Des Moines, Iowa. The man punches through a pine fence and rams into a female cop, before escaping and jumping over the fence, until the female officer manages to jump on top of him and subdue him.
It aired nationally on the show “Cops” in 2003.
When PIX 11 contacted the NYPD Thursday, it defended its use of the old tape, saying “The video clips shown are part of the training provided to our officers in demonstrating ‘classic symptoms of excited delirium syndrome.’”
The syndrome is known among law enforcement as ExDS -- and an NYPD statement goes on to note, “ExDS is often caused by illicit stimulant-type substance abuse and has been associated with cases involving methamphetamine, PCP, synthetic marijuana (K-2), LSD and other drugs.”
PIX 11 Investigates has been following the synthetic marijuana crisis closely since early July, when the NYPD joined with the Health Department, Sheriff’s office, and the Department of Consumer Affairs to raid delis in East Harlem and Harlem that were suspected of selling K2 and other ‘poison pot’ branded with different names.
Synthetic marijuana is not marijuana at all. It’s usually incense or potpourri that’s been sprayed with chemical cannabinoids to create a high. But the mixtures — mostly prepared in China — have been changed so much that some batches are causing users to have psychotic episodes and get violent.
This week, the NYPD reported that between April 1 and June 30, 2015 — more than 1,900 people went to emergency rooms in New York State with bad reactions to synthetic marijuana.
PIX 11 also received a Facebook message about the second video that was shown by the NYPD at a press conference Tuesday. The department said it showed a naked man in Brooklyn, squatted on all fours — with arms flailing — blocking an NYPD School Safety van in the middle of the day.
The Facebook message to PIX 11 said the video was actually shot in the Bronx in the summer of 2011.
On Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York also issued a health alert on synthetic marijuana. The NYPD’s Legal Bureau is appealing to the state to change the laws on banned substances, to increase the penalties for people caught selling incense brands that are really meant for illicit smoking.
Right now, selling the stuff at a deli is generally just a violation of the New York State sanitary code.