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Council focuses on City Hall security

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Rocky Mount City Council is looking at ways to better secure City Hall.

The first step is an armed security officer in the lobby who will be present during normal working hours and council meetings. Visitors will have to check in, receive a pass and be escorted to their destination by an employee, said City Manager Rochelle Small-Toney at last week's Committee of the Whole meeting.

The manager's office suite on the fifth floor will be better secured, Small-Toney said. She talked about a recent incident in which a woman was escorted out of the suite by police officers.

"City Hall is a public building, but our offices are private," Small-Toney said. "No one has the right to come in and take pictures and have a seat and do whatever all else in someone's office."

The city is looking for an engineering firm to design a security door and associated equipment, according to paperwork posted online.

Staff is also looking at how to secure council chambers with metal detector wands.

City Hall was built 40 years ago and is difficult to secure, but staff is working on how to know who is in the building and where they are at, Small-Toney said.

"It's a bit haunting here late at night, I will tell you that, because I don't know who's here in the building," Small-Toney said.

The plans mirror discussion by the Nash County Board of Commissioners in recent years about how to better secure the county's administration building in downtown Nashville next door to where a broad daylight shooting occurred five years ago on the courthouse steps.

The commissioners have talked about improved access control and bullet-resistant glass in reception areas.

"Upgrading our security needs to happen now rather than later," Councilwoman Lois Watkins said.

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