ROSWELL, Ga. – At a July 30 called meeting, the Roswell City Council unanimously voted to end the unpopular metal detector security system at City Hall that funneled all visitors through one door on the ground floor.
Not only was it unpopular, the current system was costing around $141,000 with two sworn officers on duty at all times during hours of operation. In its place, the council will install cameras at all entrances to monitor access and have one sworn officer patrolling the ground floor. Information TV screens and digital boards at the entrances will direct visitors to their destination and provide current messages of events, meetings and other information.
This may include touch screen access, scrolling message boards or both. That solution will involve $9,800 in start-up costs for equipment. The cost of the security officer will not be included in the annual cost since that job slot was already in place before the current security measures were taken.
Also, the City Hall receptionist will move from the administrative offices into the desk at the rotunda to assist people who enter on the first floor.
The City Council considered four options, including keeping the metal detectors, before selecting the new one.
Councilman Rich Dippolito said he liked the idea of cameras and the new option with electronic information kiosks.
“That’s more direct as they enter the building,” he said.
Mayor Jere Wood said the metal detectors would come down as soon as the cameras go up.
“I anticipated that the council would act on this, so I had staff prepare the order for cameras ready to be sent on Tuesday. I expect to have them up in a week or two, but I can’t give a date to it,” Wood said.
The metal detectors were installed in response to Internet threats directed toward City Hall after local gadfly Andrew Wordes’ suicide. Wordes, aka The Chicken Man, had been in and out of trouble with the city over zoning, his animals and illegal grading done on his property. He was an active blogger and when he died in spectacular fashion, it stirred a lot of controversy on the Internet and some threats of violence.
Resident Jake Lilley spoke in favor of the removal of the metal detectors. He said the new plan would maintain security, increase the level of customer service and “allow Roswell citizens to use all the doors they paid for.”