Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Cop in the Council Chambers

This month the security at HoCo County Council meetings was ratcheted up a notch when an armed HoCo police officer became a regular fixture at the proceedings. According to this story by Kellie Woodhouse in Explore Howard this move “was made at the recommendation of Police Chief William J. McMahon.”

“After moving into the renovated George Howard government building in August 2010, the County Council asked McMahon to review the security and safety of its meetings. Based on that analysis, McMahon suggested that an officer be present at public meetings.”

It’s a sad but prudent precaution given recent violent episodes involving public figures. Curiously though, one of the incidents cited as justification for this move was the shooting rampage by Clay Duke at a school board meeting in Panama City this past December. The chief told the reporter that “there are no plans to have an officer at school board meetings, although McMahon said "that's certainly something that I'd be open to."

One thing that may be helpful though. McMahons security review “also prompted the police department to train council staff on how to deal with agitated individuals.”

That training could be particularly helpful for the school board staff.

With all these officers assigned to high schools, council meetings and now middle schools too, will there be fewer officers available for patrols?
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