WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Employees at Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office headquarters are asking who is protecting their health as the county copes with mold and asbestos problems they said will be fixed during an ongoing massive renovation.
The PBSO headquarters is a sprawling complex off Gun Club Road. Up close, it is a fence-wrapped eyesore. Dark streaks of mold are evident and work is going on everywhere as part of a massive renovation.
Although the PBSO won't comment, police union boss John Kazanzjian has.
He referenced a report the PBSO commissioned months ago on the building, which opened in the 1980s.
"The report was that the building was a sick building," he said. "The mold was very, very bad."
COVID-19 protocols cleared many people out of the building to district or satellite workspaces. Now, mold and asbestos cleanup has cleared more. But that still leaves several hundred who come in and out, including communications, information technology, the Real Time Crime Center and others.
"Listen, it might not be next week or two weeks, it might be years, but, you know, it's potential for them to get some cancer," Kazanzjian said.
WPTV spoke to Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker. She said there's been constant contact with the sheriff's office staff about the renovation work and safety protocols.
"The safety of all employees is paramount," Baker said. "The project is safe."
She told WPTV renovating the PBSO complex will cost an estimated $52 million. Replacing it would cost $160 million.
"Listen, you know what? At this point, I wish they would have tore that building down and started from the ground up," Kazanjian said.
Baker also noted no one is near active asbestos removal work and said outside experts, certified by the state, are overseeing the work.