Thursday, August 06, 2009

Bugged in Connecticut?

Lobby for new police headquarters continues



By CHASE WRIGHT

Times Staff Writer


STAMFORD [Connecticut]-- Police and city officials say the Stamford Police Department's recent insect infestation sheds added light on the need for a new building.

"I think (the pest problem) is just another example of a number of issues that have come up over the years," said police union President Sgt. Joseph Kennedy. "The working conditions at this building are just disgusting for our officers to deal with on a day-to-day basis."

Bird mites, deer ticks and other insects brought in from birds nesting in the soffit, which surrounds the upper-portion of the department's Bedford Street headquarters, have made their way inside the building, Kennedy said.

The pests currently occupy the first and second floor of the department, and have forced the Burglary Squad out of their office space and into a spare interrogation room, he said.

Insect bites were reported as early as three weeks ago, Kennedy said. So far, six officers have reported being bitten, including Police Chief Brent Larrabee, who was bitten by a tick.

Two of the officers bitten have tested positive for Lyme disease; another has been diagnosed with encephalitis, Kennedy said.

"Things are pretty disgusting here right now," he said. "You wouldn't believe how many guys I see walking around the halls scratching."

Kennedy said he filed a complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, claiming 286 officers and 35 civilian employees are currently exposed to the bugs. An OSHA inspector paid a visit to the police department on Tuesday, he said.

"I'm still waiting to see what the story is with that," he said.

This is not the first time the department's headquarters has been plagued by a health problem.

In 2007, testing found high levels of lead in water fountains throughout the building. Prior to that, a lack of ventilation in the firing range posed a health risk to officers, Kennedy said.

"This place is falling apart," he said. "It's time we got a new building."

William Callion, director of public safety, health and welfare, said the city is addressing the current issue and plans to eradicate the problem in two phases: First, clearing out the nests and relocating the birds to a different location; and second, exterminating the mites, ticks and other pests inside the building.

"Eradication of the problem should occur by next week," Callion said.

Callion has been a strong proponent of outfitting the police department with a new, up-to-date facility. Structural problems with the building are beginning to weigh heavily against the city, and the police department has outgrown the space, he said.

The facility is occupied 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The original portion of the existing building is more than 50 years old, with the last renovation occurring 25 years ago, said Lou Casolo, the city's engineer.

"We had been hoping to find an alternative space to expand or build on," Callion said.

He added that based on preliminary plans, relocating the department doesn't seem like the most feasible option.

The Engineering Bureau has been approved to prepare concept design plans and a budget estimate for a new facility at the existing location, Casolo said.

"This concept plan will include a feasibility study and engineers' cost estimate that will be used to support a capital budget request for completion of final design and construction of a new facility," he said.

The Engineering Bureau intends on having its concept design and cost estimate included in the 2010-2011 capital budget, Casolo said.

A prior needs assessment review will be used to implement the concept study for station replacement on site, he said. This portion of the work will include evaluating swing space options so that a new facility can be constructed at the current location, while the majority of the operations remain in the existing building, Casolo said.

http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/fairfield_cty/news_wtnh_stamford_pd_city_wont_help_with_bugs_200908061012
Stamford PD: City won't
budge on bugs

Updated: Thursday, 06 Aug 2009, 10:17 AM EDT
Published : Thursday, 06 Aug 2009, 10:15 AM EDT

Stamford (WTNH) - Some police officers in Stamford say their police headquarters is infested by bugs and its making some officers sick.

The Stamford police union says at least ten officers have been bitten by bugs inside the 50-year-old headquarters building.

They claim three officers and one civilian officer have tested positive for Lyme Disease.

The union says the bugs infestation came from birds roosting on the outside of the building.

The union says the city did bring in an exterminator but has refused to bring a doctor in to test officers for health problems.

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