Council to get added security

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The Chatham-Kent Civic Centre.

By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

 Citing an increased need for safety, the municipality has adopted a new security system at the Chatham-Kent Civic Centre.

Chief administrative officer Michael Duben made the announcement at the start of the March 25 council meeting. Duben didn’t offer specific details, but said that “unfortunately and regrettably,” there have been instances of “suspicious behaviour in the building in and around council meetings.”

Duben pointed out the situation is not unique to Chatham-Kent as many other municipalities have had to deal with violent behaviour in council chambers.

According to the CAO, staff has been discussing the issue for a while and had planned to come forward with report later this spring. However, administration decided to adopt temporary measures prior to the report.

“Just to be clear this is not just about the safety of council, but the safety of staff and the safety of visitors that come here to participate in the process,” Duben said. “We feel pretty strongly that we need to make people feel secure while they’re in the building. It’s unfortunate, but it’s one of those things we have to address. We have an obligation to keep people secure and safe. We were hoping we wouldn’t have to get to that, but given some of the situations we’ve had to deal with, we really don’t have any choice.”

All visitors and media will be issued passes at the front door of the King Street facility so staff can track who is in the building at all times.

Duben said the upcoming report will include recommended changes to the physical space, as the current set-up poses some security challenges.

He said administration will recommend policy changes as well regarding the use of banners in the council space.

The civic centre joins the Chatham-Kent Public Library Chatham branch, which has a security guard on the main floor during hours of operation.

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