“I am asking you to call your councilman. Ask them to invest in the safety of our community. Ask them to invest in the welfare of its employees. Ask them to approve the purchase of the Clare Street property, giving your Police Department the minimal facilities they deserve, a facility that will promote an enhanced level of service to our community,” Horner said. “If you would rather, please send an e-mail to me, expressing your support of the purchase of the Clare Street property, so that I may forward it to members of Portsmouth City Council.”
In his open letter to the citizens of Portsmouth, Horner wrote, “As many of you know, I am the chief of police of the Portsmouth Police Department. I ordered the closing of the physical location of the Police Department as a result of a second ‘order to vacate’ ... Numerous employees have been experiencing sinus and respiratory problems as a result of mold within in the department. I also have been experiencing the same symptoms. The order to vacate indicated that the location of the Portsmouth Police Department was a ‘serious hazard’ and I believe it to be a life/safety issue.”
In his correspondence, Horner mentioned the deteriorating condition of the Portsmouth city building, reminding citizens that it was built in 1934.
“As a result of time and neglect, the building suffers from insufficient electrical service, inefficient heating and air systems, structural deterioration, water infiltration, construction, which is not conducive to technology improvements, and foremost an unhealthy work environment. Mold permeates the Police Department. Asbestos is present,” Horner said.
Horner said after the initial order to vacate he began to look at buildings in the area, and was asked by Fourth Ward City Councilman Jerrold Albrecht to look at the ACI Heating and Air property on Clare Street. He toured the facility and found it fit the needs of the department. Horner said the asking price for that building is $460,000, compared to $2 million for the building he had first considered, the former Scioto County Juvenile Detention Center.
“As a result, I had 14 employees of the Police Department visit the location, to include sworn officers and civilians,” Horner said. “Every employee indicated they believed the location would be an excellent location for the Portsmouth Police Department. To date, I have not had any employee express displeasure with the possibility of relocation to Clare Street.”
Horner said if an agreement can be reached, he would be ready to move into the facility immediately.
“There is the potential that Portsmouth City Council may not approve the purchase of the Clare Street property as a home for the Portsmouth Police Department. The asking price of $460,000 far exceeds remodeling of other locations or the cost of new construction. I believe, that in the past, we have spent in excess of $2,000,000 in housing the Health Department in the old AEP building on Washington Street,” Horner said. “We spent $2,000,000 on the Martings’ Building. We spent approximately $1,000,000 on a ladder-truck. We spent as much on garbage trucks with murals. But, yet we consider not approving $460,000 on a home for our police officers, an investment in their health, welfare and productivity. I submit to you that this is absurd. The Police Department deserves a contemporary, state-of-the-art facility. However, given today’s environment, we asked for, at minimum, for a foundation to build upon.”
Horner said he is asking all citizens to attend Monday night’s Portsmouth City Council meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at the Portsmouth city building.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.