Monday, September 25

Future Tulsa City Hall visitors likely will pass through metal detector | Politics

City officials are working to implement an enhanced security plan that would require visitors to City Hall to pass through a metal detector before entering the building, the Mayor’s Office confirmed last week.

The detection device is a common feature at most government buildings, but the city has typically deployed it only for City Council meetings and other large gatherings in Council chambers.

Officials are also considering designating an area along Cincinnati Avenue between First and Second streets for the public to gather during protests and demonstrations. This would provide protesters with a safe place to congregate while keeping the entrance to City Hall — at the corner of Second Street and Cincinnati Avenue — accessible to the public.

“Following the recent shooting at Saint Francis and warnings by federal law enforcement agencies about heightened threats related to violence aimed at public institutions, I asked our team to evaluate security practices at all city of Tulsa facilities,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum.

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“This is something we should always be doing on a periodic basis. They have shared their recommendations with me, and I have approved them for implementation. These include improvements to security practices and infrastructure at City Hall.”

The Mayor’s Office is working with City Council leadership to put together a funding plan, which is expected to go before councilors next month for their consideration, a city spokeswoman said.

City Councilor Jeannie Cue said there have been ongoing conversations between councilors and the Mayor’s Office about what can be done to ensure that the public feels safe at City Hall and in City Council meetings.

“I just want anyone who comes to City Hall that speaks to us and the council to be in a safe environment, to feel like speaking at the council or at City Hall is a safe place that they can speak and vent and discuss their concerns for the city, because that is why we are there,” Cue said.

There have been no threats to councilors, Cue said, but she believes there is an unease throughout the country about a wide variety of issues.

“I think people are scared; they don’t know what is happening in the country,” Cue said. “We have more homeless. The price of meat is high; the price of gasoline is high. Wages are not matching … the cost of inflation, and I think it is putting people in a different state of mind.”

Councilor Phil Lakin described the security upgrades as part of an incremental process that has been underway at the city for some time. He noted that Tulsans pass through metal detectors whenever they enter the county courthouse and other government buildings.

“This would just be the next iteration of security,” Lakin said. “It’s probably been necessary at City Hall since the day it opened.”

The city moved out of the former City Hall building, near Fifth Street and Denver Avenue, in 2008 after paying $76 million to purchase One Technology Center.

In addition to being the seat of city government, the 15-story glass structure is home to four private businesses as well as the 36 Degrees North business incubator.

City officials earlier this year announced that the Police Department’s Real Time Information Center also will be located in City Hall.

“Our goal is that all visitors and employees at city of Tulsa facilities should feel safe and able to focus on public business,” Bynum said.

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