Union calls for probe into unsafe operations center

September 10, 2013

A police union wants an independent investigation of safety violations at the Indianapolis center that handled emergency operations during the 2012 Super Bowl.

Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby called for the investigation during a news conference Tuesday. He said former Public Safety Director Frank Straub overlooked concerns regarding safety codes so the city could have the center in place for the Super Bowl.

Current Public Safety Director Troy Riggs removed about 150 police and homeland security employees from the 76,000-square-foot center Monday because city fire and building inspectors deemed the building unsafe.

The police officers and Homeland Security officials who worked in the center at the former Eastgate Consumer Mall on the city's east side are setting up shop in other locations across the city.

The city has a 25-year lease worth $18 million with property owner.

Earlier Tuesday, Riggs said the problems include a faulty basement sprinkler system and firewall.

He said he learned about those problems from Department of Code Enforcement and Fire Department officials about 1 p.m. Monday and decided an hour later to evacuate.

"I'm the director of public safety, and I cannot have people in a building that may be unsafe in the event of a fire," he said.

Rent payments were due starting in January, but instead the city has deposited the $59,000 per month in an escrow account until the Public Safety Department could resolve its disagreement with landlord Lifeline Data Centers.

Riggs said his staff has been working on a punchlist of 120 items, but until the recent review by code enforcement and fire inspectors, he believed all issues with the building were cosmetic.

Riggs said he won't try to cancel the lease.

"We think our best course of action is to work with the developer, get these things fixed and get our people back in as soon as possible."


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