There have been so many leaks in the New London Police Department building that officers are concerned about mold, air quality and the possibility of getting sick, according to the New London Police Union.
Every Band-Aid the city puts on the aging building gives out, according to Sgt. Chuck Flynn. The officers’ headquarters is used 365 days a year.
“Our main concern is for the safety and well-being of our members,” said Flynn, the vice president of the New London Police Union.
Rain has ravaged the shift commander’s office, putting holes in the ceiling and popping up paint.
Flynn, on behalf of the union, wrote a letter to the state Occupational Safety and Health Administration (CONN-OSHA) detailing the issues and alleged that the water weakened the sheetrock in the ceiling, causing to fall on employees’ heads.
The union is concerned about potential mold and air quality.
Police Chief Peter Reichard is also very aware of the building’s problems.
“The last heavy rain with the driving winds, water was coming down like it was a waterfall right here. And it caused the drywall to come down,” Reichard said, pointing out an extremely damaged piece of ceiling in the Shift Commander’s office.
Garbage bags were put up to protect files from getting wet, and the shift commander’s office has since been temporarily moved.
Hearing the union’s concerns, the chief and New London Risk Manager Paul Gills contacted CONN-OSHA, too.
Connecticut Department of Labor Spokesperson Nancy Steffens confirmed the city was in touch with CONN-OSHA just before the union was, and requested a health and safety consultation. Steffens couldn’t give much information about the case since it is still open, but if CONN-OSHA does find any issues, the city will be required to fix them.
Gills said representatives from CONN-OSHA were in the police department Friday and Monday. Everyone is working toward the same common goal.
“We’re concerned about the health of our officers. The lieutenants and the sergeants work out of this office every day. If we have an unhealthy building, it can lead to medical issues with the officers,” Reichard said.
The police headquarters is three decades old. Reichard said the roof has been repaired several times. Recently, roofing was put over some windows to try and stop water from getting into the building.
Budget problems in New London are an issue, though. Gills said the police department should be at the top of the list for repairs.
“We’re going to have to obviously make some adjustments to our facilities budget and certainly make this a priority,” Gills said.
The shift commander’s office was scheduled for a renovation in this fiscal year along with the office next door to it, according to Reichard. The current problems might speed up the process, he added.
The department has been plagued by problems over the years. Gills said CONN-OSHA tested for air quality a few years back and the city had to clean the HVAC system and ductwork and rid it of mold.
In 2005, CONN-OSHA found mold during a renovation of the dispatch center, Gills added.