'Sick Building Syndrome' Suspected At IMPD Facility

Employees Report Becoming Ill At East District Headquarters

An investigation has been launched into repeated complaints of illnesses at Indianapolis police's East District Headquarters, RTV6 has learned.

The Marion County Health Department and the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration are expected to begin tests soon at the former home of the Eastgate Mall, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.

Two months after employees moved into the newly renovated building, several have complained of respiratory problems, headaches and other issues, commonly referred to as sick building syndrome.

"People are experiencing irritation, upper respiratory allergies, headaches, very non-specific indicators, and that's why it's given the term 'sick building,' because there's not a known origin of the issues," said Lisa Cauldwell with the Marion County Health Department.

According to emails obtained by RTV6, supervisory personnel have asked the fire department for help in evaluating the facility. The correspondence acknowledges several employee complaints about respiratory distress.

Richard Frantz, who retired from Indianapolis police after 28 years, has had to take his wife, a civilian employee at the East District site, to the hospital more than once.

"I've had to take her to the emergency room five to six times, and the last one was over the weekend at Methodist (Hospital)," he said.

Frantz said on one occasion, doctors at St. Francis kept his wife in the hospital for three days for an evaluation.

"She's got all the symptoms that they say are related to black mold or some kind of mold," said Frantz. "She gets headaches, redness in her eyes, nausea, dizziness, rapid heartbeat and low blood pressure."

Years before police moved into the building, scrap metal thieves laid waste to the structure, leaving it open and susceptible to the elements, running water, molds and asbestos.

The building was renovated, but work was done quickly to get an operations center set up in time for the 2012 Super Bowl.

In an email obtained by RTV6, Major Ted Fries of the Division of Homeland Security said no one in his division has experienced any problems. But in the email, he said the East District, which cohabitates the building, "has had several complaints of respiratory problems."

Frantz said he and his wife just want to know what's causing her symptoms.

"All of the doctors basically just tell her, 'Stay out of the building. Don't go into the building until it's been tested for air quality,'" he said.

Testing could begin as soon as this week.

Indianapolis police did not return calls for comment Monday.

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