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Methuen officer taken to hospital after being exposed to fentanyl during prisoner booking

A police officer in Methuen was evaluated at a local hospital Wednesday after he was exposed to fentanyl while booking a prisoner, authorities said.

The prisoner, according to police, allegedly ripped open a bag of white powder that had been taped to his groin. The bag had been discovered while he was being booked and processed at the police station, authorities said.

Kyle Dennis, a 28-year-old Methuen resident who is known to police, was arrested on three outstanding warrants from Massachusetts courts after an officer recognized him standing on Broadway at about 4 p.m. While he was being booked, a needle fell from “the area around his pants,” said police, and as officers searched him, Dennis allegedly grabbed a plastic bag that was taped between his legs, ripped it open, and spread its contents out all over the booking area and onto the officer who was booking him, Patrick Waldron.

Both Waldron and Dennis were taken to a local hospital. Dennis was later released and taken to Lawrence Police Department for further processing, authorities said.

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Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon said in a statement that Waldron is “doing well and expected to be OK.”

The cell block where the fentanyl exposure happened was cordoned off Wednesday after the incident. Anyone arrested and booked by Methuen police were taken to other police departments while the area was cleaned, the department said.

Dennis, a wanted fugitive in New Hampshire, is facing charges of possession of a fentanyl, hindering a police investigation, giving a fake name to police, defacing property, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He is expected to be arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Thursday.

“This incident highlights the dangers our police officers face every day, even inside the confines of their own police station, at the hands of desperate, dangerous individuals,” Methuen Mayor James P. Jajuga said in a statement. “Tonight, a career criminal knowingly put the lives of our officers in danger.”

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Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.