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District 5 police officers moving to College Hill as temporary fix, may construct new building

HQ construction pending city council's approval
District 5 police officers moving to College Hill as temporary fix, may construct new building
Posted at 9:21 AM, Jan 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-09 09:25:51-05

CINCINNATI -- All officers from the embattled District Five police headquarters are moving to a former Talbert House location in College Hill by March 30, with hopes that City Council will approve an additional $7 million to construct a dedicated police building on site.

That's according to an internal memo from City Manager Harry Black to Police Chief Eliot Isaac, which said the police department entered a lease effective Jan. 1 for 13,000 square feet of office space at 5837 Hamilton Ave.

"This location will be used to house all District Five personnel until such time that a permanent District Five station is constructed. During the next few months, the leased building will undergo modifications to increase the safety and security of the facility," Black wrote in the memo.

Read the memo in full in the box below.

Former City Council Member Charlie Winburn and FOP President Dan Hils first claimed publicly more than a year ago that the current Ludlow Avenue building's conditions might have contributed to higher-than-normal cancer rates among employees. Six workers contracted cancer between 2015 and 2016, Hils said, but there has been no proof that the building caused those illnesses.

Winburn and Hils joined Mayor John Cranley and former Council Member Kevin Flynn at the location in College Hill on Dec. 18 to announce the city had bought the building and retained the option to buy a plaza in front.

"What I don't want is the city of Cincinnati to make the same mistake, to try and go into a building that wasn't meant to be a police district," Hils said. "Sixty years ago, they went into a building that wasn't meant to be a police district, and here we sit 60 years later, and we do have questions about health and everything else in a building that's way too small."

In addition to the cancer concerns, Hils claimed the current District Five headquarters is about a quarter of the size it should be to facilitate police operations.

The city originally allocated nearly $10 million to retrofit a permit center at 3300 Central Parkway as the new District Five headquarters, Cranley said. He said building a new headquarters from the ground up in College Hill would cost an additional $7 million, at most.

"This is an opportunity for us really to improve the quality of life for all the citizens of of Cincinnati and put priority safety number one," Winburn said.

The afternoon of Dec. 18, city council's budget committee decided not to vote on Winburn's funding legislation that restructures the city's debt to fund the project. Vice Mayor David Mann promised the council would vote in 2018, when newly elected council members joined the body.

Cranley did not say why the new, more expensive plan would be a better option, but he did cite College Hill's renaissance as a reason for locating the new police headquarters there.

"What we've seen in this College Hill business district is miraculous," Cranley said. "It was an act of hard work by the people here who believe in the future of their neighborhood and have put together an incredible comeback."

"This (headquarters) will be the final push that College Hill would need to really take off economically," Hils added.

Watch Dec. 18's full news conference below: