City-requested health evaluation: Cancers not linked to working at District 5

CAMP WASHINGTON, OH (FOX19) - Federal health officials say evidence does not suggest cancers among employees of the union that represents Cincinnati police are linked to working at District 5 Police headquarters.

City Manager Harry Black alerted City Council on Thursday of the findings from a Health Hazard Evaluation at the Ludlow Avenue building from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). City officials asked for the review, also called a cancer cluster study, in November after concerns persisted more than a year over the 61-year-old facility.

Read that full report at the bottom of this article.

The development came the same day city and police officials held the first in a series of meetings with the community to solicit input as they search for a new headquarters location.

The police union president who led the charge to get officers out of the current building said patrol officers who still work out of it are anxious to move.

All administrative staff and others who work in the facility all day were moved to another police building last fall, when District 5 also closed to the public.

The remaining roughly 100 patrol officers are scheduled to be moved to a location in College Hill by month's end.

The police union leader said Thursday he had questions about how federal authorities came to their conclusion.

"I haven't heard anybody from NIOSH reaching out to any of these families, history of their cancers or anything of that nature so I don't know of any of the investigations going into the report," said Sgt. Dan Hils.

Thursday's community meeting drew a crowd. Residents looked over 20 potential sites for the new police station.

"We gave them some supplies here so they can tell us what they want, where, do you want this," said Assistant Police Chief Teresa Theetge.

The new headquarters  will house a minimum of 130 officers and other employees and allow room for future growth. It also should be designed to improve community engagement, something the assistant chief says they've learned is important through the years.

Another meeting will be held next week, on Wednesday, at the College Hill Recreation Center at 5545 Belmont Avenue in College Hill. A third public forum is scheduled April 3 at 6 p.m. in the McKie Recreation Center, 1655 Chase Ave., Northside.

Staff and residents are expected to discuss each of the proposed sites in greater detail and consider whether each site should be considered for final review.

This includes consideration of the city's vacant, old permit center site on Central Parkway in Clifton, the city manager's original recommendation more than a year ago to City Council.

District 5 of the Cincinnati Police Department serves Camp Washington, Clifton, Clifton Heights-University Heights-Fairview (CUF), College Hill, Mt. Airy, Northside, Winton Hills and Winton Place. This also includes a large portion of the University of Cincinnati, whose main campus is situated within the boundaries of District 5.

View more on District 5 and its commander, Captain Bridget Bardua, on the city's website.

District 5 police station has been embroiled in a controversy over health and air quality concerns for more than a year.

FOX19 NOW was the first to tell you about concerns related to working conditions inside District 5 in a series of investigative reports that began in November 2016.

SPECIAL SECTION: FOX19 NOW Investigates District 5

In all, officials have said, more than 30 past and present District 5 workers over the years have been diagnosed with cancer. Last year, the widow of a former District 5 specialist, Robert McGuire, sued the city, alleging "toxic and hazardous substances at the building caused the lung cancer that killed him in early 2015.

No one's cancer has been linked to conditions at the building.

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