Metal detector to be added to Hamilton City Council chambers

Vice Mayor: ‘We want to provide a safer environment for our residents’

Eventually, residents attending a Hamilton City Council or planning commission meeting, or any other event happening inside council chambers will have to pass through a metal detector.

City Council, without much discussion last week, agreed with the recommendation presented by Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit to purchase a portable magnetometer and wands to be used before any event inside council chambers.

The police chief said this was part of the considerations city officials reviewed in terms of security inside the city building, and specifically council chambers. Bucheit told City Council members his officers would “conduct some very brief screenings for folks before they enter the chambers here for this meeting or other meetings.”

“It would be similar to going to a Reds game, a Bengals game, Kings Island, something of that nature. Very non-intrusive, but it is an important security enhancement that in today’s day and age I think is well advised, for our citizens, the protection of our citizens and the events we host here,” he said.

Metal detectors are a staple in courthouses, and on occasion, Hamilton City Schools has used metal detectors and wands at football games.

The cost would be a one-time payment of $6,000 to purchase the portable magnetometer that can roll out prior to meetings, and have hand-held wands to search personal items or bags. A rough estimate of annual personnel costs to operate the machine would be between $2,000 to $3,000, Bucheit said.

The installation of the portable magnetometer is dependent on the supplier, the police chief said, but added the metal detector could be in use by the first May meeting.

Metal detectors are not used to access Butler County Commission meetings, nor some of the county’s largest communities, like Middletown, Fairfield, and West Chester Twp. Hamilton City Schools has a school resource officer at all board of education meetings, and a walk-thru metal detector for visitors, according to Superintendent Mike Holbrook.

Two of the state’s largest cities vary in the use of metal detectors. The city of Dayton does not use metal detectors, though they have a police presence at each meeting. The city of Cincinnati does utilize metal detectors, according to the city clerk’s office.

Bucheit said Hamilton is “probably on the front end of the curve,” and sees its use as “quickly becoming a part of the landscape with public meetings.”

Mayor Pat Moeller said, “Safety is a concern at all government buildings.”

“Council thought it would be an appropriate time to hear from our public safety professionals about what Council could do for council meetings and possibly other public meetings that are held on the first floor,” he said.

Vice Mayor Michael Ryan said this was a topic the council and city officials had talked about.

“We want to provide a safer environment for our residents that wish to speak to council, and attend our council meetings,” said Ryan. Because other Hamilton boards and commissions use this meeting room, the vice mayor said “this will provide some additional protection and security measures for those folks as well.”

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