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Council Members Tour Cincinnati Police District Five Facility

Jay Hanselman

Cincinnati Council Member Charlie Winburn wants the District Five police building shutdown immediately. He and the Fraternal Order of Police are alarmed at the rate of cancers among current and former officers at the facility.

Four council members and the media toured the building Thursday. Winburn showed up with a protective face mask saying all officers still in the building should have one too.

He's running radio commercials and has taken to social media to make that point.

Council Member Kevin Flynn says he did not learn anything from the tour that he did not already know; the building is cramped.

"I don't see anything in this building that would cause me to say there is an emergency that we need to shut the place down," Flynn says.

Flynn says you can't just snap your finger and relocate the facility.

Council Member Christopher Smitherman agrees.

"It's not like we can just go out and buy a building in some other part of town and then say protect [District Five], it doesn't work that way," Smitherman says. "But this might light the fire in order for us to get a transition plan as we fix the permit center starting in March 2018 and finishing it in 2019."

The city is in the beginning stages of remodeling the old Permit Central building at 3300 Central Parkway as the new District Five home. Smitherman says maybe a council majority will come up with funding and plan to temporarily relocate the facility until the other project is complete.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac relocated several employees who spent their entire shifts in the building. The only ones still there are patrol officers and supervisors who spend a lot of time on the streets.

City Manager Harry Black said in December 2016 the District Five police building had been given "a clean bill of health" following a series of environmental tests.

"The indoor air quality in District Five headquarters is found to be typical for commercial buildings," Black said at the time. "No conditions were found that would be expected to cause health concerns. No conditions were found that exceed regulatory limits or industry standards."

The city manager said like many city buildings, the District Five headquarters is old.

The widow of a Cincinnati police officer filed a federal lawsuit in February against the city alleging conditions at the District Five headquarters led to his death.

The complaint says Robert McGuire worked for the Cincinnati Police Department for more than 12 years.  During that time, he was stationed at District Five.

Paula Hammer-McGuire's attorneys state in the complaint that Robert McGuire contracted lung cancer as a result of exposure to toxic and hazardous substances at the police facility. He died in January 2015 at 51-years-old.

District Five serves Clifton Heights-University Heights-Fairview, Camp Washington, Clifton, Northside, Winton Hills, Winton Place, College Hill, and Mt. Airy.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.