TAVARES, Fla. — Department officials say a Tavares police officer accidentally overdosed Tuesday after being exposed to fentanyl during a routine traffic stop.
Officer Courtney Bannick reported finding alleged narcotics on a passenger in a vehicle during the traffic stop. The individual was arrested and taken to the Lake County Jail, but shortly after, other officers on the scene realized Bannick needed immediate medical attention.
Body cam released by the department shows her passed out and her fellow officers yelling that she is overdosing.
“It was because of the strength of the fentanyl and how it has increased, and it is all over,” Tavares Police Chief Sarah Coursey said. “It is so much stronger ... we are seeing so many more overdoses.”
They administered Bannick three doses of NARCAN, which is commonly used when someone is overdosing on an opiate. This was the type of stop Coursey said Bannick has done at least 100 times before.
“I am giving extra NARCAN to all the officers so they have some to take home in case it were to get on their clothes or exposed later,” Coursey said.
As for Bannick, she says she always wanted to be a cop, even though, as a teenager, she admits to getting into some trouble. But she says it was a conversation with a police officer that got her back on the right track.
“I had someone that was realistic with me, not telling me you shouldn’t do this,” Bannick said. “But (the officer) did tell me how it could affect my future instead of just taking me to jail.”
Bannick said she normally works the evening and late night shift for the Tavares Police Department.
But on Tuesday, after stopping someone and finding drugs in the vehicle, the officer who enjoys helping people in her community, was the one who needed help.
Coursey says that the number of fentanyl arrests has continued to increase over the past five years — in just the last month and a half, the Tavares Police Department has responded to 18 fentanyl overdoses.
Data show that in Lake County alone, there have been more than 60 overdoses the past three months.
Bannick is expecting to make a full recovery, and the officer with the pink badge and the donut hanging from her rear view mirror will be back on patrol Friday.
“I want kids and people in need to not look at us as someone they should fear, but someone they can talk to and come up to,” Bannick said during a ride-along with News 13 in early December.
Officials say the individuals Bannick pulled over during the traffic stop are now facing felony charges.