EC officer: Moldy building has to be fixed

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (WAVY) – Mold is getting so bad at a public safety building in Pasquotank County, a police officer is speaking out, hoping it will force someone to fix the problem.

“I enjoy helping people,” said Lawrence Phifer. “I enjoy new challenges everyday”

These days, the job of being an Elizabeth City Police officer is getting more challenging for Phifer.

“It’s bad,” Phifer added. “I cough. I get this chronic dry cough.”

Officer Phifer’s cough began in 2012, just as crews were working to get rid of mold from the Pasquotank County Public Safety Building.

“I happened to walk in and I inhaled mist,” Phifer said. “It seemed like little misty rain, and I immediately started getting sick.”

The mold was inside the building’s finger printing room.

“My wife is concerned,” Phifer added. “My daughter is concerned. I still have the nose bleeds in the morning. The headaches are not quite so bad, but now that it’s in my blood, it presents a new set of issues.”

Several experts have come in and tested the area. Two studies were done last May and July and each found high levels of mold. The area in question is now cordoned off. Pasquotank County Sheriff Randy Cartwright tells 10 On Your Side the area keeps getting cleaned, but the mold keeps coming back. County officials say they’re hiring a professional company to come in and hopefully clear it for good.

“They have to do something with the building,” Phifer said. “Dragging feet is not going to make it go away.”

Phifer has to see a doctor almost every week and he has a bag full of medicine he takes daily. He called 10 On Your Side for help.

“I know 10 On Your Side will get down to the bottom of this and ask the questions that need to be asked,” Phifer said.

The public safety building houses the Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, dispatchers and detective bureau. Sheriff Cartwight says he’s heard of other employees getting sick. .

“If it was one officer, fine, but now you are talking multiple people and they are just sitting around like they don’t know what to do,” Phifer said. “That’s sad, because the type of mold that was found is Aspergillus. It is dangerous to human beings and it will kill you.”

Even more upsetting for Phifer is the way he feels he is being treated by the North Carolina League of Municipalities, the company who’s handling his workers compensation claim. He would like the company to do more to make sure he is getting proper treatment. 10 On Your Side called the company and is waiting for a call back.

The Public Safety Building opened in 2006.

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