LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The Lawton Police Department is working to submit proof they have fixed a sewage problem that drew the attention of the state Department of Labor. They found out about it after someone in their office saw these pictures of the sewage backup posted on social media a few days after Christmas. They sent a letter to the police department saying if they don't provide proof the problem was fixed, then the Department of Labor would send out someone to inspect the building.
This incident that happened in December is just part of a recurring problem in the Lawton Police Department. They constantly have these plumbing issues, and they try to get it repaired right away. But there is only so much they can do.
Assistant City Manager Jim Russell says this wasn't a one-time-problem.
"We have sewer back-ups quite a bit especially in that building," said Russell. "It's just the age of the building. The building is 50, 60 years old. The cast iron pipes that are down there are starting to show their age as well."
Russell says with all the people in the building using the aging sewer system, it causes these frequent problems like the one that happened in December.
The hallway in the Lawton Police Department basement, now clear, after being taken over by sewage.
That sewage back-up caused damage in many rooms including a breakroom and the men's bathroom, but the Lawton Police Department Public Information Officer Nancy Lombardo says that they took action as soon as they were notified about the back-up the Monday after Christmas.
"We've have cabinets repaired, we've had sinks repaired, and we've had the sections professionally sanitized," said Lombardo. "It has been addressed and repaired to the best of our ability."
But the pictures of the mess were already circulating around social media, and prompted the Department of Labor to open up an investigation. According to the letter from the Department of Labor, Lawton PD could have violated multiple health codes.
But, Russell says replacing the sewage pipes that give the police department so much grief would cost more than the building is worth.
"We tackle each issue whether it be the elevators, whether it be the heating and air system or the sewer system," said Russell. "We tackle each one and we fix it to keep it operational until we can get into a new building."
That new building is the new public safety complex with a new police and fire stations, city jail and courthouse. They plan to have a design completed by August, and for it to be move-in ready by 2018.
The police department is now gathering those documents of proof to submit to the Department of Labor no later than Monday.