VENTNOR – The city wants employees who serve the public to be safe against potential violence and is ready to spend about $100,000 to ensure they are.
“We are basically lucky Ventnor has not seen any violence. That does not mean we should not prepare for it,” Police Chief Douglas Biagi said at the Aug. 8 Board of Commissioners meeting.
Homeland Security regulations demand public buildings be more secure than they were in the past, he said.
The Police Department has received a proposal to equip internal doors with swipe card, key fobs or wristband technology, so doors lock automatically and provide access to employees only.
“We’ve allowed the public to have free access, but I think those times are coming to an end,” Biagi said.
The after-hours kiosk and cameras that will be installed at Cambridge Avenue entrance would allow access to be monitored by the police dispatchers after business hours.
“Having the building open after hours is a huge security risk,” he said.
He said a homeless person was recently discovered sleeping in the stairwell.
In addition to making the historic City Hall building off limits after business hours, Biagi would like to see the mayor’s office and Police Department offices on the second floor of the historic brick structure equipped with electronic locks to make them more secure.
“It’s the least we can do with the way things are without knocking this down and building a new secure building,” he said. “A little bit of security goes a long way. It’s a sign of the times.”
The heavy oak exterior doors could be retrofitted to ensure they maintain their historic look.
“The fittings they provide are historical society friendly,” Biagi said.
Commissioner Lance Landgraf said after hearing it, he was satisfied with Biagi’s plan and that the city should be able to control who has access to the building.
“The public will not notice anything different when they come in,” Biagi said.
The upgrades could be done in phases, Biagi said, with a second phase replacing walk-up windows with break resistant glass.
Biagi said the commissioners would learn more about the system at an upcoming meeting.