Council talks city hall safety

Burlington City Hall might be getting a security update.

Interim Police Chief Jeff Klein told city council members Monday during their work session City Hall needs to have more precautions to keep those that work in the building safe from those who might wish to do them harm.

“Locking it down like the White House, I’m not saying that,” Klein said. “However, making it more secure at certain points, to essential personnel, that would be our recommendation.”

Klein recommended two walls be installed in the second floor of the building, which includes the finance department, city manager’s office, city council office and the city clerk’s office. 

Ross Allsup, a Code Inspector, is shown at work in his office Tuesday in Burlington City Hall.

“It would make most sense to keep those areas restricted,” Klein said.

The walls would have metal doors requiring a keycard for access.

Individual offices also could have keycard access so only certain city hall employees could have access to them. He said this would work well on the third floor, where it would be impossible to put up a wall as it would restrict access to the public restrooms.

Burlington City Hall is shown Tuesday in downtown Burlington.

Klein said the access points also could be set up to remain open for periods of time. Klein said this system is used for the police department to allow people to come into the building when meetings take place upstairs in the Black Hawk room, which ordinarily would be locked.

“The programming options are limitless in the system,” Klein said

Cameras were another issue in the talk over city hall safety.

“The camera system is average at best,” Klein said.

With a new system, Klein said, anyone in a city building with access to the cameras could see what is happening in City Hall at any time. He also recommended where new cameras could be placed and the city install cameras similar to those in the police department, which he said are low profile enough they would not be noticed by members of the general public.

In addition, the camera system would allow portions of City Hall to be put on lockdown remotely.

Interim Chief of Police Jeff Klein talks about the proposed security upgrades to Burlington City Hall Tuesday in the city council chambers. One idea was to put a panic bar on the council table in case of an emergency.

Another security recommendation is to install a panic bar in the city council table. Such a bar would allow a city council member to alert DesCom discreetly if there is a danger there. The police department already uses a similar system.

Klein said the total bill for the security upgrades would be between $75,000 and $100,000.

Interim Chief of Police Jeff Klein, makes his way through Burlington City Hall Tuesday in downtown Burlington. Klein made a number of security update suggestions during Monday's City Council meeting.

City councilman Matt Rinker agreed with Klein’s recommendations.

“It’s time for a giant upgrade,” Rinker said.

Rinker said while he is in favor of security upgrades, he would not want to sign off on security features that would be torn out in a few years if the building is renovated.

He said he would be in favor of blocking off the city manager’s office, the finance department and some of the offices on the third floor.