As the Hamilton County Commissioners Move to Kill the Proposed Mt. Airy Crime Lab Site, KeepHamiltonCountySafe.Org Seeks to Revive the Dormant Effort

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Since its launch on Feb 9th, KeepHamiltonCountySafe.org has reached thousands.

On Feb. 25th, the effort to build a state-of-the art crime lab and morgue at the donated Mt. Airy site was officially declared R.I.P. At a public hearing, the Hamilton County Commissioners rejected a gift offer of the 500,000 square foot former hospital in Mt. Airy and 68 acres for $1 from Catholic Health Partners that they had unanimously accepted on Jan.13, 2014, barely a year before.

No future site is in the planning stages so supporters of Hamilton County’s world-famous CSI team decided to take action. At her own expense, Michele Young hired college student Paul DeMott, Jr., to hurriedly design a website that would alert the citizens of Hamilton County of the peril.

On Monday, Feb. 9, the website, KeepHamiltonCountySafe.Org hit the internet, reached thousands of readers and by Thursday, Feb. 12, became the subject of an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Campaign: Indecision on new crime lab wastes tax dollars, http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2015/02/09/crime-lab-campaign-pigeons-living-tax-dollars/23145001/. Young brought in county leaders to join the cause to keep Hamilton County safe, asking all citizens to spread the word by sharing the site.

Said Young of her reasons for starting the website, "From the time of Thomas Paine and Paul Revere, it is a tried and true tradition in American democracy that one citizen can send out a siren call of an injustice and be heard. Today, this siren call could be sent overnight over the internet.”

The Hamilton County Coroner, Dr. Lakshmi Kide Sammarco, expressed her disappointment. Dr. Sammarco described the hardships of working in an antiquated building where scientists must don gas masks due to inadequate ventilation, shoot ballistic tests from one room to the next, work in make-shift stations in hallways, conduct examinations on ping-pong tables, flush out stuffed-up pipes of autopsy waste products, wear layers of clothing as the heating breaks down, and scramble for solutions as aging equipment fails from body coolers to boilers.

It was Dr. Sammarco who searched for gifts of buildings when the County said it did not have the funds, and secured the original Mt. Airy offer. With the Commissioners’ rejections of the offer, Dr. Sammarco called on business and government leaders to come together now and ”make having a state-of-the art crime lab and morgue facility for this community and the law enforcement community a priority.”

Michele Young, an attorney and founder of an organization to support Dr. Sammarco’s effort, Keep Hamilton County Safe, was at the 2014 hearing when the Commissioners promised to make an updated crime lab their priority. She was surprised when she heard Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann declared the Hamilton County Crime Lab a “luxury item” at the County’s State of the Union Address, two weeks before the ultimate vote to kill the proposed Mt. Airy project.

The site, http://keephamiltoncountysafe.org, serves as an electronic town square allowing citizens to lend their voices to the grassroots viral campaign to update the crime lab by sharing the site’s message via Facebook and Twitter,” said Ms. Young. “We owe it to future generations to support our valiant coroner and her CSI team enduring intolerable working conditions to keep their critical work going for our sake.”

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Michele Young
@GregoryYoungLaw
since: 06/2012
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