REDDING, CA – Redding police union officials are in the process of arranging an independent inspection of the aging station in the city’s downtown.
The Redding Police Managers Association and Redding Peace Officers’ Association have notified city officials they have retained two law firms to look into health and safety concerns raised by its membership.
Just last week Redding city council members identified building a new police headquarters at City Hall as a top priority. But even if the city finds funding for the $7 million-plus project, it wouldn’t be completed until late 2014.
The firms looking into union claims are Maire & Burgess and Reiner, Simpson, Slaughter & Wood, both Redding firms that take on personal injury cases.
Sheri DeMaagd, personnel director for the city of Redding, confirmed on Wednesday city administrators in January received a request to allow an independent inspector on the secure facility.
The city asked for additional information, and on Feb. 15 received a second letter in which representatives for the two organizations state many of their members are concerned their health and safety is at risk as a result of the “raw sewage leaks, water leaks, unsafe water, mold growth and a potential structural integrity issues.”
Neither police Sgt. Al Mellon, president of the managers association, or officer Brad LaCroix, police union president, could be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Their letter reads in part: “Again, it is not our goal to bring in outside state and federal agencies that will cause any financial hardship to the city, but rather, to investigate on our members’ concerns and work with the City toward resolution of those concerns.”
Concerns over the sanitary conditions at the crumbling facility have intensified over the past two years. Raw sewage has backed up at the department four times, most recently in May 2012.
State occupational safety complaints were lodged. One of those, filed in 2011, triggered a visit from inspectors California’s division of Occupational Safety and Health inspectors.
Last year, the city submitted photos and documentation to Cal/OSHA in response to the most recent sewage mop-up.
No violations were found, DeMaagd said.
The independent inspection will be the first of its kind, she said, noting she already has consulted with City Manager Kurt Starman and City Attorney Rick Duvernay. She now is in the process of contacting the unions to set up a time for the visit.
Periodically, the city orders air and water quality testing, and it strives for an annual building inspection.
The last one occurred in November 2011 and involved checks to small items such making sure an extension cord is in its place and the guards are on paper cutters to big-ticket items like making note of big gaping holes on the wall to leaks on the roof, DeMaagd said.
All 300 of the city’s facilities receive similar inspections.
The California Street building is up for a new inspection and a date still needs to be set, she said.
“We apply the same standards that we would at any other facility, which is to check everything from A to Z,” DeMaagd said.
The last test at old station was last October. DeMaagd said she ordered re-testing of the water in the police chief’s washroom after an Aug. 31 test found the lead levels higher than the recommended guidelines.
Results from the second test returned within normal levels, and she attributed the abnormal reading in the first test to water work that had been done about that same time.
“We assumed what was happening is that there was some water work,” she said. “They didn’t flush the faucet, like they were supposed to, before they took the sample.”