Some D5 officers prepare to move amid calls to relocate all over cancer concerns

Some D5 officers prepare to move amid calls to relocate all over cancer concerns
Cincinnati Police Specialist Robert McGuire and his wife, Paula. (Provided by Paula McGuire)

CLIFTON, OH (FOX19) - As some Cincinnati Police District 5 officers pack up and prepare to move to temporary quarters next week amid health concerns, calls persist to relocate all who work in the building now.

About 35 administrative staff members - investigators and others who work in the Ludlow Avenue police station most or all of their shifts - are set to move by month's end to the police department's Spinney Field training complex in Lower Price Hill.

Some may already be moving small things out piecemeal, a police spokesman acknowledged Tuesday.

The move date is set for Oct. 24, said Sgt. Dan Hils, police union president.

The development follows a FOX19 NOW investigation into conditions and health concerns at the 60-year-old building that began nearly a year ago.

A plan to put relocate some District 5 officers in a police facility in Camp Washington was scrapped over the summer without a backup plan in place.

Spinney Field is a temporary fix until the city can negotiate a lease to put the 35 officers in a former bank building in Camp Washington.

But the other approximate 90 personnel who work out of the current headquarters, mostly patrol officers, are upset to be left behind.

They will remain until new police station is renovated and ready in 2019, according to the latest memo about the situation from City Manager  Harry Black to City Council.

"The patrol officers are frustrated that they are not getting moved as well, that they are going to have to still go inside the building," Hils said.

"Right now, I think everybody that has worked on this doesn't really have any real good options to move that large an operation out. From the beginning, I insisted the administrative folks go first because they spend the majority of the day in that building."

More than 30 past and present District 5 officers have been diagnosed with cancer, including six under the age of 60 who died in 2015 and 2016, according to Hils.

Concerns about the suspected cancer cluster erupted again last month when a longtime District 5 male officer was diagnosed.

That prompted renewed calls to move the officers as soon as possible.

Paula McGuire has become one of the strongest advocates for District 5 officers.

She is the widow of Robert McGuire, a Cincinnati police specialist who worked there for four of his 12-year career with the department before he died of complications of cancer on Jan. 15, 2015.

It was the same day one of his former co-workers, District 5 Specialist Stephanie Bradford, 50, passed away from Stage 4 appendix cancer.

Paula McGuire sued the city in February, alleging "toxic and hazardous substances" at the building caused her 51-year-old husband, Robert McGuire, to develop the cancer that killed him.

He worked at District 5 until 2006, when he was transferred to District 3. He beat colon cancer after a 2010 diagnosis, but his 2012 lung cancer wasn't as forgiving.

She said she doesn't want to see another of his fellow officers stricken with the disease.

"I was very confused and heartbroken initially after his death, but that confusion has now turned to advocacy and the raising of the awareness for the remaining men and women who have been left behind at the tainted District 5 police station.

"My heart cries for the District 5 officer just diagnosed with cancer because I know the painful journey that lies ahead. I don't care how the administration tries to spin it, something is wrong - my children, Bob's children and myself are the collateral damage.

"We are supposed to be a progressive city with a best practice model police force and community policing model, but our officers are working in this condition."

According to the lawsuit, "During the course of Mr. McGuire's employment at District 5, he was exposed to toxic and hazardous substances.

"The City of Cincinnati was aware of the presence of toxic and hazardous substances at District 5 headquarters. The City of Cincinnati deliberately misrepresented the nature of the toxic and hazardous substances present in the building."

City and police representatives have not commented on the suit, but city officials filed a response in the court record earlier this year denying the allegations.

"During the course of Mr. McGuire's employment at District 5, he was exposed to toxic and hazardous substances," his wife's lawsuit states.

"The City of Cincinnati was aware of the presence of toxic and hazardous substances at District 5 headquarters. The City of Cincinnati deliberately misrepresented the nature of the toxic and hazardous substances present in the building."

City and police representatives have not commented on the suit, but city officials filed a response in the court record denying the allegations.

McGuire filed suit three months after FOX19 NOW began an investigative series into District 5 headquarters.

Hils exclusively invited FOX19 NOW into the police station for a lengthy tour after he said workers there raised concerns with him.

Our cameras remain the only media ones permitted inside so far to capture images Sgt. Hils described as "shameful" as he called for the city to relocate the employees who work there.

Hils pointed out mold and asbestos, spiders, a bed bug infestation, mice, a leaky roof and cramped quarters.

Cincinnati city officials conducted air quality tests at Hils' request in December.

Tests for mold, radon and asbestos found the air quality in the building was typical for commercial buildings.

There also is no known link between the building and cancers.

However, the city manager agreed earlier this year that District 5 detectives and other employees who spend most of their shift in the building can temporarily move to other facilities if they want until a new headquarters is ready.

Black also recommended City Council set aside $7 million to $10 million to completely renovate the city's vacant permit center on Central Parkway for a new District 5 police headquarters.

Copyright 2017 WXIX. All rights reserved.