City shuts down Regional Operations Center
Broken promises to fix ongoing fire safety concerns at the city's $18 million Regional Operations Center, known as the ROC, are now forcing the evacuation of Homeland Security employees and IMPD East District.
"I have ordered Chief Hite and Chief Coons to remove every personnel from that building," said Troy Riggs, Indianapolis Public Safety Director.
Up to 150 employees will have to move.
"The building was not very safe. There were some issues with some fire walls and problems that were supposed to be fixed that had not been fixed," Riggs explained. "I cannot be the Director if Public Safety and have someone in a building that they [City Code Enforcement] deem to be unsafe." He added.
In late February the city's fire marshal gave the ROC the "all clear" after nearly five months on fire watch.
The city paid upwards of $140,000 to have a firefighter walk the grounds 24 hours a day to look for fire hazards.
The fire watch was lifted after the fire suppression system at the old East Gate Mall finally passed a round of inspections.
Monday, the public safety director revealed a basement sprinkler system failed a new round of tests.
"I'm extremely disappointed," Riggs told reporters at a hastily called news conference.
Previously city officials said the logistical nightmare of trying to move East District made the "fire watch" necessary. Now it's a cost that public safety is no longer willing to pay.
Gary Coons, the city's Homeland Security Chief, is moving his team to the airport.
"We want to work in a safe place like anybody else does," said Coons, taking a break from packing inside.
The ROC was the official security headquarters for Super Bowl XLVI. The owner of the building told 13 Investigates the FBI had the sprinkler system certified in Quantico, Virginia - although at the time he did not provide any documentation to back that up.
Later that summer the city signed a 25-year lease and now it's on the hook for $18 million. That lease on the building dated May 20, 2011 was signed only by building owner Alex Carroll and former Public Safety Director Frank Straub.
The city began making rent payments in January. It will pay $57,000 for 10 years and then $63,000 a month for the remaining 15 years for a building now unfit for safe use.
The rent payments are not going directly to the owners but into an escrow account until the issues are resolved.