Temporary relocation of District 5 officers on hold? - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Temporary relocation of District 5 officers on hold?

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FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker FOX19 NOW/Jennifer Baker

A plan might be on hold to temporarily move some District 5 officers into another building until a new headquarters is ready.

The police union president says it is; a police spokeswoman says it is not but where they will move is unclear.

About 34 District 5 detectives and other non-patrol employees were scheduled to move  Aug. 18 from their Ludlow Avenue building in Clifton.

The development was announced earlier this year, after a FOX19 NOW investigation into conditions and health concerns at District 5.

The employees were headed to the Youth Services Section building on Stock Street in neighboring Camp Washington, city records show.

To make room for the District 5 workers, Youth Services officers were supposed to relocate Aug. 14 into the old District 3 police station on Warsaw Avenue in East Price Hill, according to a May memo from City Manager Harry Black to City Council.

But that's off after concerns emerged over moving Youth Services out of Camp Washington, according to Sgt. Dan Hils, police union president.

"We are in a holding pattern," Hils said Wednesday. "I've been somewhat disappointed throughout this process of how slow the actions are."

Youth Services officers are staying put, he said, and District 5 police officials are trying to find another temporary location.

Hils said he did not know which properties are under consideration. 

FOX19 NOW reached out to city and police representatives for comment.

A city spokesman, Rocky Merz, referred questions to Cincinnati police.

A police spokeswoman said the move is not stalled. 

"The move of District 5 officers is not on hold.  We are continuing to work on this through our internal processes," Tiffaney Hardy wrote FOX19 NOW in an email Wednesday.

FOX19 NOW asked Hardy to elaborate.

A few hours later she wrote in another email: "The housing status of our Youth Services Section and District (5) is being evaluated internally as it involves a number of facility options and impacts our overall service delivery. We are not at liberty to share those discussions at this time."

Hils said he hopes the District 5 workers who want to move out are able to soon, within the next month or two.

"I am still hopeful in the end there will be an improved status of their working conditions," he said. "The goal is to still find a temporary place while a permanent place becomes funded."

Youth Services officers are able to better serve juveniles and their families at their current location, said one of them, Eddie Hawkins.

"I am ecstatic we are staying where we are," Hawkins said Wednesday. "It gives us the opportunity to do the work the chief wants us to do with youth and their families.

"I know that moving from our current location would have hindered some of the things that we do because we are centrally located. This is the best location. All our parents know where we are."

District 5 covers Clifton, University Heights, Fairview/Clifton Heights, College Hill, Camp Washington, Mt. Airy, Northside, Spring Grove Village and Winton Hills. It also includes the University of Cincinnati.

In January, Black recommended the city close District 5 after the FOX19 NOW investigation.

Related coverage: FOX19 NOW Investigates District 5

Hils exclusively invited our cameras in for a top-to-bottom tour in November. He pointed out issues including mold, spiders, a bed bug infestation, mice, a leaky roof and cramped quarters.

The police union leader turned to FOX19 NOW for help after receiving complaints from District 5 officers - and after police administrators tried unsuccessfully for years to secure funding from the city for a new facility.

Council most recently rejected budgeting $17 million for a new headquarters in 2015.

Hils also asked the city manager to have mold, radon and other air quality tests conducted.

City officials repeatedly have insisted the current District 5 building has no environmental concerns and is no longer ideal due to lack of space.

Still, to move some District 5 officers out sooner, Black worked out an agreement with police to relocate some this summer.

The city plans to completely renovate their now-vacant permit center on Central Avenue into a new District 5 headquarters.  It would cost $7 million to $10 million and open in 2019, city records show.

At 28,000-square feet, the permit center is nearly three times the size of the current District 5 building on Ludlow Avenue.

But Hils doesn't think the permit center is the best location for a new District 5 headquarters, noting that it costs so much to renovate, the city might as well build a new facility designed for a police headquarters.

"It's got so many problems with it. It would need so much work to just be an adequate place," he said.

A new building has been estimated to cost $17 million to $20 million.

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