FOP demands officers removed from District 5 building, screened for cancer

Posted at 10:08 PM, Oct 23, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The Fraternal Order of Police voted unanimously Monday night to demand all officers be immediately moved from District 5 headquarters and provided with free cancer screenings, FOP president Sgt. Dan Hils announced on Facebook.

"If the city fails to comply with this demand, money has been set aside to have attorneys consulted in this matter," he wrote.

Some police have linked the building on Ludlow Avenue, where employees reported bugs, mold and asbestos, to a number of cancer diagnoses among people who worked there. At a Sept. 26 news conference, Hils reported six cancer-related deaths among District 5 employees under the age of 60 during 2015 and 2016.

"We can’t control all the situations that we get sent to, but I think the least that we can ask for is to have good working conditions in the place where we start and end our shift," Hils said then. "I just want to say, my patience is done."

A moving date has not been set, the police public information officer, Lt. Steve Saunders, said Tuesday. He said some employees working administrative assignments had already started moving into a new temporary home at the Spinney Field training complex.

For the foreseeable future, Saunders said patrol officers would continue to meet at Ludlow Avenue for a few minutes for roll call, then work out of their patrol cars.

Although City Manager Harry Black said an inspection of the Ludlow Avenue headquarters did not find evidence of unsafe material contamination, Police Chief Eliot Isaac promised Sept. 29 to temporarily move all employees working administrative assignments to Spinney Field by Oct. 31. Once training classes resume, those employees would be moved to a leased building on Colerain  Avenue in Camp Washington, Isaac said.

Isacc's plan called for the remaining 100-odd patrol officers to remain at Ludlow Avenue until Dec. 31.

In the long term, the department still plans to move District 5 headquarters to the former Permit Center at 3300 Central Parkway, but the necessary renovations to make a new home for the district will not be completed until 2019 at the earliest. 

Judging by the union's decision, District 5 officers have had their fill of waiting.  

“Put the padlocks on it," Hils said Monday night. "1012 Ludlow should be shut."

WCPO reached out to the City of Cincinnati after the announcement, but had not received a response. Councilman Charlie Winburn, who had in the past backed Hils's efforts, tweeted late Monday: