CLIFTON, OH (FOX19) - Mold test results are expected back Tuesday from a sample taken inside Cincinnati Police District 5 headquarters last week when two city councilmen and the police union president took a tour.
Councilman Wendell Young said he took a basement vent cover off with a screwdriver, and Fraternal Order of Police President Dan Hils reached inside, wiped with a paper towel, and placed the contents and the paper towel inside a plastic bag.
Hils said he immediately sealed the bag. He turned it over to FOX19 NOW's Morning Digital Producer Jennifer Baker as soon as the men emerged from the building.
Baker paid $200 to have a mold company test it. (FOX19 NOW will reimburse her).
City Spokesperson Rocky Merz said District 5 is undergoing mold and radon testing Tuesday. Results are expected later this week, he said.
Young and Councilman Charlie Winburn toured District 5 with Hils on Dec. 7, almost a month after Hils exclusively invited Baker inside District 5 and took her and FOX19 NOW Reporter Frankie Jupiter through it to reveal what he said were "shameful" conditions.
He contacted FOX19 after saying he received complaints from officers at District 5.
He showed our cameras what he said appeared to be mold in the basement vents. He also said there was concerns about asbestos, mice and bugs in the cramped building.
Those statements echo ones D5's commander gave last year in a detailed City Hall presentation with pictures. City Council, however, declined to make room in the 2017 budget for a new police station, a cost estimated to be $17 million to $20 million.
Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black sent Hils a letter five days after he took FOX19 NOW inside District 5 notifying him he violated the police department's media policy by not getting permission from police officials to take the media into the building.
Hils then sent Black a letter requesting the city test the building for mold and radon. Black agreed. Those tests have yet to occur and it's not clear when that will happen.
The city has been cleaning the building and conducting an environmental audit that was due to occur earlier this year but did not until FOX19 NOW went inside D5.
After Winburn and Young toured D5, they came out and called the building "deplorable." They, too, said they saw mold inside and commended Hils for speaking up.
A few hours later, the city released a report that shows Cincinnati's environment director says clothing fibers from officers' uniforms, not mold, is what's in the vents. he director, Larry Falkin, also wrote that mold and radon is unlikely to be found in the building.
In an appearance Thursday on FOX19 NOW Morning News, City Manager Harry Black acknowledged District 5 is old but said it is "in good shape."
From an environmental standpoint, District 5 is in good shape. We've just recently had a team go in and do a variety of tests," he said.
"There was some mention of mold associated with some sort of air ducts in District 5. Upon closer examination, the mold that people thought was there are just clothing fibers because you have a great many uniforms that are stored there and the air circulation pulled fibers from the uniforms and they stuck to the air vents."
So Baker turned the sample over to Mold Inspection Sciences.
They sent it off to their labs in Denver for testing to determine if it contained mold and, if so, what kind of mold.
According to Black, any improvements or a new building for District 5 would likely have to wait until 2018 or 2019 budget.
He tells FOX19 NOW he thinks it is more likely a renovated building will be the solution, but City Council will ultimately decide whether to build a new facility or renovate one of the city's existing properties.
City Council is expected to pass the 2018 budget in June.
Some District 5 staff could be moved before this summer. 129 sworn officers and five civilian employees work there.
On Monday, Rocky Merz, a city spokesman, said "as part of the ongoing assessments of the space at D5, discussions are taking place about moving some staff temporarily, though this is still in progress and no final determinations have been made."