New metal detector in service at Selma City Hall

Published 4:33 pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

Trips to the Selma City Hall may take a few extra minutes after city government installed a metal detector at the building’s entrance.

The Selma City Council purchased the metal detector for approximately $3,000. It was paid for by councilman Cecil Williamson and councilwoman Susan Keith, who split the cost through oil lease funds.

Chief of Police William Riley said the metal detector would initially be used during city council meetings, with possible expansions of use during the city hall’s regular operating hours.

“In this day and time, different things cause people to be under stress and as a result people may decide to act out,” Riley said. “We wanted to put up a deterrent so that citizens will do the right thing.”

Discussion surrounding a metal detector began early this year when a group of protesters interrupted a city council meeting and were escorted out of city hall by police. During the incident, one protester ran behind the city council’s desk, and yelled in opposition.

The city council followed the incident by discussing a security plan at a public safety committee meeting and putting a police officer at the entrance to city hall during meetings. The committee also decided to prevent citizens from approaching the council’s desk once meetings start.

Other proposals during the public safety meeting included a sign-in sheet for visitors and identification badges for city employees.

The committee also considered establishing additional rules of order as a part of the new security plan, which would force attendees to be removed after being warned about speaking out of turn twice.

City Council President Corey Bowie said the metal detector should discourage any Selma residents from bringing unreasonable objects into city hall during council meetings, but added that he would like to see the detector expand to normal operating hours.

“We are just trying to avert anyone from being harmed,” Bowie said. “Whenever we have money involved, like in city hall, I think you can never be too safe with security.”