- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) - Savannah’s century-old City Hall is trying out an upgrade that for many government buildings has become a common necessity of modern times - a metal detector placed inside the front door.

Visitors to Georgia’s oldest city have long been able to stroll into the rotunda of the gold-domed City Hall building, constructed in 1906, and just sign a guest log kept by a security guard who issues name tags. And while there have been no violent outbursts to prompt a change, some City Council members have complained current safety measures just aren’t good enough.

Councilman Tony Thomas told the Savannah Morning News (https://bit.ly/1dgfo2V) that even some nightclubs in town are “more secure than City Hall.” He raised the issue during a City Council retreat last month, saying he was concerned someone might get killed if officials didn’t take action.

So Savannah officials agreed to a trial run at screening City Hall visitors with a metal detector. The Chatham County courthouse loaned a spare machine for the city to try before the mayor and council decide if they want to install one permanently, said Savannah city spokesman Bret Bell.

Surveillance cameras have also been added throughout City Hall to enhance security, Bell said.

Both the county and federal courthouses in Savannah require visitors to pass through metal detectors. The government building where the Chatham County Commission meets does not, though a newer government building where county tax assessors meet uses metal detectors.

Savannah city officials recently renewed their $469,995 contract with a security services firm that provides armed guards for City Hall, two other city office buildings and five local parking garages. Mayor Edna Jackson has said she wants to make sure everyone who comes to City Hall is protected.

Councilman Van Johnson said he agrees city government needs to beef up its security measures.

“If they bring in bags, their bags need to be checked,” Johnson said.


Information from: Savannah Morning News, https://www.savannahnow.com

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