Police still unhappy with conditions at District 5 headquarters

Officials spar over time until ready to move

CINCINNATI -- City council members and police gave a tour of police District 5 headquarters Thursday in an effort to show working conditions they say are subpar. 

Police have concerns about the building after several employees who worked there were diagnosed and even died from cancer.

"As you can see, the working conditions are pretty tight," Sgt. Jay Voelkerding said.

Capt. Bridget Bardua said the room where detectives work was frequently sprayed for a bug problem. 

"It then raised their level of concern and then when you at it it ... their lieutenant getting diagnosed with cancer, it just pretty much took their concerns over the top," Bardua said.

Six employees who worked in District 5 have died from cancer. But there's no proof linking it to the building.

Regardless, the police union and several city leaders want staff to leave the building ASAP. On Monday, the Fraternal Order of Police voted unanimously to demand all officers be immediately moved from the building and provided with free cancer screenings. 

"Everybody in here should be required to wear some type of mask until this place is closed down," Councilmember Charlie Winburn said.

Plans are in the works to move District 5 headquarters to a new spot on Central Parkway. Some staff have already been temporarily moved to Spinney Field. 

"We're doing what we're able to do at this point," Chief Eliot Isaac said. "And I know that they're ready to go. I'm ready for them to go. If I had a place for them to go right now, I'd take them there right now."

MORE: Mayor, Council member at odds over timetable for moving District 5 police headquarters

Sgt. Dan Hils, the FOP president, said the building should have been vacated years ago. 

"In my mind and in my heart of hearts, it's not a healthy place to work," he said.

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