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

  • Parent

    For now, Options 3 and 4 work out to the same thing, right?

    So what IS the status quo, before this bill is implemented? Guns not allowed in City of Decatur public buildings except in …..?

    I vote for whatever option results in the least total number of firearms in our public buildings with the exception of public safety and justice facilities. No matter how well crafted the law and how careful the city employees, the risk of firearms going off, accidentally or purposefully, rises with the number of firearms present.

    • Oakhurst Rez

      Parent,

      The status quo has worked without any problems at all until people bought into the fear that many propagated that HB 60 would turn Decatur into the Wild West. Do you think all the would be criminals are relieved because of HB 60. These laws have NO affect on the potential monsters that would go into a public place and shoot people, which statically predominately occur in places that are ‘gun free’ imagine that). Prohibitive gun laws only affect the law abiding, licensed carriers that want the freedom to protect themselves.

      All of the gun fear is maddening

  • TEEBONICUS

    Unless entry security measures screen all entrants to the building, ensuring that NO weapons come into the premises, the people’s right to carry their own protection must be respected. Security personnel at the entrance must be armed, so that if anyone with a weapon forces his way past security, he can be shot down immediately.

Receive the Daily Email DIgest

* = required field