BARTOW – A call from a concerned citizen, asking about security at Bartow City Hall, gave Commissioner Leo Longworth some thought.
“He was obviously referring to what happened at Virginia Beach,” Longworth said at the Bartow City Commission meeting on Monday, June 3.
On May 31, a disgruntled former city employee shot and killed 12 people before he was shot dead at a municipal building in Virginia Beach.
“I just want to make sure we have secure facilities and I understand there are relative costs,” Longworth said. “An injured person has no cost and we should have security for our employees and us to keep us safe.”
Before the mass shooting on Friday, May 31, Dewayne Craddock sent to his supervisor a resignation letter through his email. Hours later Craddock opened fire and killed 12 people, wounding several others.
“I don't know if I'm thinking we need a metal detector for security, if we have to think that far. But even in this day and time even churches are not safe,” Longworth said.
Commissioner James Clements said it probably is something they ought to discuss.
“There is definitely something to maybe look further into,” he said. “It's a sign of the times. You wouldn't think it could happen here, but it sure could. I bet they felt that way in Virginia Beach.”
City Manager George Long said there are security matters that have been improved and there are those already in place.
“There are a number of things we have done and there are a number of things to be done. I don't want to talk about the details,” Long said.
Long additionally pointed out there are 22 city-owned buildings for which there has to be security measures for all of them. He also pointed out while measures can be taken, not everything can be planned for.
“You can't be 100 percent, because there is no guarantee to what a person will do,” he said.
Giving advice to the board, Long suggested it would be a good subject to discuss during a Strategic Planning session, of which two per year are scheduled. He suggested that, in the meantime, he could look into how other Polk municipalities deal with security.