CARBONDALE — City officials last year made upgrades to security at the Civic Center in response to the 10-year anniversary of a City Hall shooting in Kirkwood, Missouri, and this year they are adding more safeguards.
“Due to the increasing number of active shooter events nationally, we felt it was important to do everything we could to ensure that employees, and the public doing business at City Hall, are safe in this building,” City Manager Gary Williams wrote in an email Thursday.
In addition to previous upgrades, Williams said the city will be investing about $3,800 in a metal detector to be used before community members come into council meetings.
Williams wrote that the city “felt it was time to consider implementing additional measures at Council meetings as well to ensure that weapons don’t find their way into Council meetings.”
Discussion over whether to have metal detectors at Carbondale’s meetings came after Marion did the same thing last spring, Williams said.
Marion Mayor Mike Absher said he was not in office at the time, but knows that the council’s decision to wand visitors at the meetings stemmed from a situation where a man who had recently been released from the Williamson County Jail came to a meeting and acted in a way that made council members feel threatened.
Williams said the security measures taken in Carbondale were never intended to keep anyone from doing business with the city or from participating in city government. Instead, it's just to keep everyone safer.
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Absher said there is a balance that can be hard to find here.
“It’s like anything else. It’s a hard call to make between people’s liberties and other people’s safety,” he said.
Absher said as a city leader, sometimes you have to make a plan despite the potential blowback, especially if it keeps people safe. Not acting sometimes isn’t an option.
“Hope is not a strategy,” he said.
“It's unfortunate that we even have to consider these types of security measures but given the fact that hundreds of active shooter events occur every year throughout the nation, we felt it was better to be cautious than to do nothing and hope that we never experience such an event,” he wrote.