Rats infest University Police Department headquarters

The University Police Department’s headquarters will remain in limited use Thursday, as Facilities Management treats the building for an infestation of rodents.

UPD Chief Kevin Hay said most administrative personnel at Woodhull House, located at 2033 G St., took the option to work from home Wednesday, even though the building wasn’t closed completely as facilities worked to clean up the infestation.

“We have had some problems with rodents. Woodhull House is over 150 years old and issues such as these do occur upon occasion,” Hay said in an e-mail.

The police chief said the department’s dispatch operations were temporarily moved to another location on campus.

“All alarms, phones and security systems remained in operation and are up and running. There was no time period when these essential services were not being monitored,” he noted.

Michael Walterschied, director of the D.C. branch of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, confirmed Wednesday that complaints were filed concerning the building, but he declined to say if the complaints related to the rodents and how many complaints were received.

“I will tell you that quite a few complaints were filed,” Walterschied said.

One UPD officer, who declined to be named because he’s not authorized to speak on the matter, said the rat problem began a few months ago as buildings across the street were demolished in preparation for construction of a Law Learning Center garage.

At first the problem was with mice, but recently the officer said he saw rats closer to the size of squirrels. Some were caught with traps, he said, and deodorizers were put around the building to alleviate the smell.

“People are getting ill,” due to the odor of dead rats, the officer said.

Hay said the facilities management office did a complete inspection of Woodhull to determine the extent of the problem and how it occurred.

“Workers took down a wall to get to the area that needed abatement, they cleaned the affected area thoroughly. Then they sealed off areas believed to be the sources of the rodents entering Woodhull,” he said.

The installation of a new wall and all work is expected to be complete Thursday. In terms of employees who use Woodhull House, Hay said all University Police staff and the police officer’s union were notified of the latest developments.

“The Environmental Health and Safety Office is monitoring air quality within the building and air quality is within acceptable limits,” Hay said, noting that odor caused by the infestation continues to subside since rodents were removed and the area was cleaned.

Full operations are expected to resume in the building Friday morning.

It is unclear if OSHA will investigate the incident. Walterschied declined to say whether complaints about Woodhull House were formal or informal.

Walterschied said whenever a formal complaint is filed, OSHA investigates. Informal complaints are investigated if he himself decides whether or not to investigate. OSHA investigations must end within six months.

Walterschied said if OSHA decides to investigate Woodhull House, the investigation could end within a few weeks.

Priya Anand contributed to this report

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.