FOP leader asks former D5 cops with cancer to contact him

Sgt. Dan Hils (FOX19 NOW)
Sgt. Dan Hils (FOX19 NOW)

CLIFTON, OH (FOX19) - The leader of Cincinnati's police union wants to hear from former District 5 officers who were diagnosed with cancer.

"We need anyone who has worked in Cincinnati Police District Five who had or has cancer, or has someone close to them that had or has cancer and worked there to reach out to me," Sgt. Dan Hils posted to the local Fraternal Order of Police Facebook page late Wednesday.

"You can reach me on Facebook messenger or call me at FOP #69.

"District Five representatives and I have met with professionals (not media) that will be assisting us with statistical analysis and consideration of further action. We will honor request for privacy, but any information could be critical."

Hils claims there is possible link between the building and cancer. He stopped short of confirming he and two District 5 officers met with  lawyers on Tuesday.

"We met with three of the city' best professionals, and they weren't car salesmen," he said.

FOX19 NOW began a series of investigative reports on Cincinnati District 5 headquarters in Clifton last month.

[RELATED STORY: Cincinnati FOP to Council: Move cops out of 'shameful' District 5 now]

Our cameras are the only ones permitted inside so far to capture images of conditions Hils described as "shameful" as he called for the city to relocate the 129 officers and 5 civilian employees who work there.

He took our camera crew on an exclusive tour last month and pointed out concerns over mold, asbestos, spiders, a bed bug infestation, mice, a leaky roof and cramped quarters.

Since then, he said our reporting led other officers touched by cancer to come to him. He said he has become troubled over a pattern he has discovered at least 25 past and present District 5 officers diagnosed with cancer, six in particular who were in their 50s when they died in 2015 and 2016. Five of those six had jobs that mostly kept them in the building.

There is no direct link or connection between the building and the cancer pattern. And earlier this week, City Manager Harry Black announced air quality test results conducted at Hils request gave District 5 a clean bill of health.

Common forms of mold were found at concentration levels lower than what we are exposed to outside everyday, and no radon or asbestos were detected, he wrote in a memo to City Council and Mayor John Cranley.

Moisture was detected "here and there" at the Ludlow Avenue police station, he told Council's Law and Public Safety Committee. The city plans to hire an outside expert to deal with that.

To date, Black said Monday, no officers have brought any illnesses concerns related to District 5 to the city's Risk Management liaison for investigation.

In response to Hils' Facebook posting, Rocky Merz,  city spokesman, re-released Black's memo from Monday.

"Please see the attached (memo) and particularly the conclusion section where Harry invites officers to bring concerns forward: 'We appreciate the concerns brought forward by the FOP and any of our employees related to the quality of workspaces. We encourage the individuals with concerns to bring them forward and we will continue to investigate and remedy items of concern as swiftly as possible."

Also Monday, Black said city officials will continue to evaluate intermediate and long-term options for the building and provide options for council to discuss, prioritize and ultimately decide as part of the 2018 budget to be adopted in June.

No determinations or recommendations have been made yet.

Options could include moving District 5 workers to the city's old permit center on Central Parkway once renovations are made, according to Black.

Those renovations could not begin until 2019 at the soonest, he said, and other police and fire services could be located there, too.

Last week, Hils said some District 5 officers are seeking legal advice. He reiterated that earlier this week and said officers remain concerned about the building.

FOX19 NOW was about to interview officers about District 5 on Monday but, minutes before our cameras rolled, advised them to leave without speaking.

He then issued this statement to FOX19 NOW:

"Officers who are afraid to speak to Channel 19 have discussed with me meeting with an attorney and a meeting is being arranged," he said, declining to elaborate.

Councilmen Charlie Winburn and Wendell Young and local civil rights leader Bishop Bobby Hilton all have said they want District 5 shut down and the officers moved into another city facility until a new permanent one is available.

Winburn is trying to get support among his fellow council members for a motion that would require Black to close District 5 by May. The soonest council will consider the measure is their first meeting in January.

Hilton told FOX19 NOW last week his youngest sister. Angela Hilton, 50, is a District 5 patrol officer who was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer two weeks ago. He said he wouldn't put too much faith in the test results because he considers the cancer count among past and present D5 officers so high, he describes the cancer pattern as an "outlier."

He said he spoke with the city manager on Saturday and Black agreed to order data to be pulled starting Monday to see if other Cincinnati police precincts have a current and previous cancer rate similar to District 5.

Hils has previously told FOX19 NOW none do.

On Wednesday, Hilton said he put a formal written request into the city for the information.

District 5 covers Clifton, Camp Washington, Clifton Heights, University Heights, Fairview, Northside, College Hill and Mt. Airy.

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