CLIFTON, OH (FOX19) - The leader of Cincinnati's police union dropped a massive District 5-related public records request on city hall Wednesday.
And he copied an attorney.
The two-page request from Sgt. Dan Hils to City Manager Harry Black and City Solicitor Paula Boggs Muething lists no less than 15 items including copies of all inspections and/or testing "of the building at 1012 Ludlow Avenue," which is the district's address in Clifton, from 1957 to present for but not limited to:
- HVAC assessments
- radon testing
- mold testing
- plumbing assessments or inspections and asbestos inspections and complaints
It also demands, among several things, copies of all complaints of any kind that were lodged or received concerning conditions in the building from 2000 to present and a list of chemicals contained in pesticides used or sprayed in the building within the last 36 months, or 1 1/2 years.
The police union also wants to see all records "concerning cancers developed by, or the risk of developing cancer posed to, persons who have worked or are working in the building."
"I've signed and sent a public records request to the city manager's office and the city solicitor's office that is much more thorough than I believe any other request about District 5, its history and its records and I will share any response with attorneys for the purpose of exploring what steps to take next."
Hils' copied downtown Cincinnati attorney Mike Allen on his requests to both the city manager and city solicitor. Allen, Hamilton County's former prosecutor, is a FOX19 NOW legal analyst.
Allen declined to explain why he was copied on the police union's public records request.
"We have received the requests," said Casey Weldon, a city spokesman. "We will pass along any responsive documents to the FOP, as we would with any public records request."
FOX19 NOW began a series of investigative reports on District 5 last month.
About 134 people, mostly sworn officers, work at the 57-year-old police station. District 5 covers a large portion around the University of Cincinnati and overall serves Clifton, Clifton Heights, University Heights, Fairview, Camp Washington, Northside, Winton Hills, Spring Grove Village, College Hill and Mount Airy.
District 5 has struggled with what Hils and other police officials say are longstanding problems. Past and present Cincinnati police commanders have worked for decades to get a new District 5 building, to no avail.
Most recently, District 5's commander last year gave a detailed City Hall presentation with photos that outlined concerns over mold, mildew, asbestos, rodents and overcrowded quarters. But, ultimately, Cincinnati City Council declined to set aside millions needed to build a new facility.
So last month, the police union leader took only our camera crew inside the two-story building that opened in 1957 and was designed as more of a park facility than a police precinct.
Sgt. Hils pointed out for our cameras what appeared to be mold on basement vents and said officers who worked in the building had concerns about other issues such as asbestos, a leaky roof, bugs, rodents and quarters so crowded interview rooms for suspects and crime victims are really "closets." Detectives have long worked at "mini-desks" in the first-floor investigative room because it's too small to fit regular size desks.
District 5 also has struggled with a persistent bed bud infestation that has necessitated at least seven spray treatments this year, Hils has told FOX19 NOW.
Six of those treatments occurred before he took our camera crew inside the building on Nov. 16.
A seventh one occurred since then, he said, when the FOP provided to FOX19 NOW a photo of a chair inside District 5 soaked in what appears to be bed bug spray.
Hils asked Black to have District 5 tested for mold and radon. Hil said our reporting led other officers touched by cancer to contact him.
He said he has become troubled over a pattern he has discovered of at least 25 past and present District 5 officers diagnosed with cancer, six in particular who were in their 50s when they died in 2016 and 2016. Five of those six, he notes, had jobs that kept them mostly working in the building.
Earlier this month, Hils took to Facebook to seek out former and current District 5 officers who have cancer. He asked them to contact him and confirms to FOX19 NOW he has met with lawyers.
He says the pattern of officers getting cancer is concerning, there could be a link to the building and the issue needs more statistical analysis.
There is no direct link or connection, however, between the building and the cancer pattern. And last week, Black announced air quality test results conducted at the police union's request gave District 5 a clean bill of health.
The test results came back showing no issues other than moisture that was found "here and there" in the building, Black recently said. The city is hiring an outside expert to deal with the moisture.
"The indoor air quality in the Police District 5 headquarters building is found to be typical for commercial buildings. No conditions were found that would be expected to cause health concerns. No conditions were found that exceed regulatory limits or industry standards," Black wrote to City Council in a Dec. 19 memo.
"We appreciate the concerns brought forward by the FOP and any of our employees related to the quality of workspaces. We encouraged individuals with concerns to bring them forward and we will continue to investigate and remedy items of concern as swiftly as possible."
Black has said city administrators will continue to address any issues brought to light as quickly as possible and would encourage any employees with illnesses concerns related to work spaces to contact its Risk Management liaison for investigation.
To date, Black noted on Dec. 19, none have.
City officials also 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 recommendation for the budget, Black has said.
No determinations or recommendations have been made.
Options could include moving District 5 workers to the city's old permit center on Central Parkway once renovations are made, he said.
Renovations could not begin until 2019 at the soonest, he said, and other police and fire services could be located there, too.
Council is expected to adopt the 2018 budget in June.
Councilmen Charlie Winburn and Wendell Young have both said that, despite the test result findings, perception of a problem at District 5 was still very much a reality for the officers who work there.
The men remained firm in their support for a motion Winburn is trying to get before City Council next month. It would order the city manager to close District 5 and temporarily relocated its workers into another city facility by May.
So far, the motion only has three signatures: Winburn's, Young's and Councilman Chris Seelbach's.
Winburn and Young said they were prompted into taking action after touring District 5 with Hils earlier this month.
They came out and told reporters gathered outside the building was "deplorable.:"
Young, a former Cincinnati police officer who once worked at District 5, announced he would quit if he was assigned there today.