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City Council debates the efficacy of ballistic glass

Jun 25, 2018 03:20PM ● Published by City Journals Staff

Carpenters and installers take measurements and assess the windows at the Justice Court building where bullet proof glass will be installed. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Erin Dixon | erin@mycityjournals.com

In an affirming vote of 5-1 (Mayor Jim Riding was excused for the evening), the council approved the installation of ballistic (bullet proof) glass in two departments: Justice Court and Finance. 

$100,000 from the fiscal year 2017–2018 budget had been reserved for this purpose, and construction bids have been collected. During a council meeting on May 23, a debate about the glass ensued. The discussion centered on the perception of the safety in these areas, whether these areas have the highest need for protection over others, and that safety in the United States in general is a growing concern. 

City Manager David Brickey, though not included in the city council vote, had strong opinions on the construction. 

“There have been numerous school shootings in recent years across the country; I think it’s a reality of the United States today,” Brickey said. “The day’s coming where our kids are going to have to go through magnetometers to go to school. I’d like to be able to protect the people who work here.” 

The location choice for the glass is in reaction to recent events, not simply for an anticipated feeling of safety. In the documents given to council members it states: “Both of these areas deal with a high volume of public traffic and are collecting money... Both departments encounter extremely stressed and/or unstable individuals whose emotions are high.” 

Councilmember Kayleen Whitelock was concerned about the appearance of these public areas—that the glass may make residents feel less safe and less trusting of local government. 

“I struggle with this,” Whitelock said. “When I go to places like that, it doesn’t make me feel safer; it makes me think maybe I shouldn't come here anymore. It’s the feel that it gives. If someone wants to do harm they are going to do harm.” 

Councilmember Chris McConnehey referenced a specific incident that motivated the proposal and was in favor of the installation. 

“We’ve had issues with code enforcement and irate individuals come in there and causing harm,” McConnehey said. “So, we’ve had to do some remodelling and relocation. We have these in police; we have these in the courts next door. I would rather not wait until we have a significant incident to take action.” 

In return, Whitelock said she felt that if there was a security risk for one department because of displeased residents, then all departments should be outfitted with security. 

“Today, we’re picking winners and losers then,” she said. “There’s people that get really mad at the mayor, and you Mr. Brickey. So, how do we decide that finance is important but over in government, those women aren’t as important?”

Brickey responded that the concern for these departments comes first because of some recent events, but that he was not unwilling to secure more areas in the future.

“[I]f we have a flash point at the Planning counter, don’t be surprised if I’m back here asking for that to be considered next time,” Brickey said. 

Police Chief Doug Diamond agreed with Brickey that the need is most important in Finance and the Justice Court. 

“We constantly review those areas that we think need the security,” he said. “We identified these two areas that we probably need to do as soon as we can. But as we go along, we’ll evaluate all the other areas as well.”

 

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