Decatur weighing options on gun law

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 1, 2014
Decatur City Hall

Decatur City Hall

The Decatur City Commission will consider options about how the city will respond to Georgia’s recently-enacted House Bill 60, known as “guns everywhere” law by its critics.

Under House Bill 60, “A license holder shall be authorized to carry a weapon in a government building when the government building is open for business and where ingress into such building is not restricted or screened by security personnel.”

Options range from providing security at city buildings to doing nothing and seeing how the law plays out.

Commissioners will consider their choices at the Sept. 2, City Commission meeting. The meeting was moved to Tuesday, as opposed to the regular Monday meeting date, due to the Labor Day holiday. It begins at 7:30 pm at City Hall, located at 509 North McDonough Street in Decatur, Ga. All meetings are open to the public.

In June, city officials said they were trying to get an estimate on what the new law might cost taxpayers. One estimate – described as “back of the napkin” by city officials – put the potential costs at around $500,000.

Documents attached to Tuesday’s meeting agenda do not assign a dollar value to the specific options.

The options are as follows:

Option 1-Security Checkpoint with Certified Police Officer from City of Decatur

Establish security checkpoints at the public entrances to each City facility staffed by a certified police officer employed by the City of Decatur Police Department.

– Officer will screen every individual upon entrance either with a hand-held metal detector wand or every person will enter through a walkthrough metal detector.

– Officer will be expected to be welcoming, respectful, and provide information to visitors.

– Screening would be during business hours and during some after-hours meetings.

Benefit- A certified police officer employed with City of Decatur would I be hired and trained under the City of Decatur’s mission and values, and is a part of the team, rather than an outside, contracted source. May feel more affiliated to the City and would be hired under the higher standards of the police department.

Option 2-Security Checkpoint with Contracted Certified Law Enforcement Officer

Establish security checkpoints at the public entrances· to each City facility staffed by a certified police officer employed by DeKalb County Sherriff’s Office or other law enforcement agency.

– Officer will screen every individual upon entrance either with a hand-held metal detector wand or every person will enter through a walk through metal detector.

– Officer will be expected to be welcoming, respectful, and provide information to visitors.

– Screening would be during business hours and during some after-hours meetings.

Benefit- There may be more officers available using an outside agency.

Option 3- No Security Checkpoint; Implement Security Improvements

Maintain city buildings as free and open public spaces. Conduct a “Physical Security Survey” of each site and develop a plan to implement changes that would improve security.

Benefit- Less costly than options 1 and 2; addresses broader array of security issues; maintains welcoming and open feel of City buildings

Option 4- Maintain Status Quo

As HB 60 is a new bill, and is codifying case law already in place, there is the option to wait and see how the law plays out before investing in any changes. This is a popular option with other municipalities in Georgia.

Benefit- Less costly than other options.

Additionally, commissioners also are considering a resolution to create a Facilities Coordinator Position and a resolution that would prohibit employees, excluding police officers and security personnel, from bringing guns to work.

“Employees who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination,” the new policy says.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

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