Police ask for $26,000 to improve council chambers security

2013-10-31T06:00:00Z Police ask for $26,000 to improve council chambers securityJohn Lee McLaughlin Journal staff Rapid City Journal
October 31, 2013 6:00 am  • 

Threats from an "irate citizen" have prompted the police department to recommend $26,000 worth of security updates for the city's council chambers, according to Assistant Police Chief Karl Jegeris.

Jegeris requested those funds Wednesday during the Legal and Finance Committee meeting.

Although council members expressed concern about spending that much money, the committee did voice unanimous support of the proposal. The Rapid City Council will consider the request at its Monday meeting.

Jegeris said 60 percent of the funds would come from the mayor and council contingency fund, with the remainder being paid by the Rapid City Area School District. About $4,800 of the costs would be used for designing the security updates, he said.

Jegeris said the most recent threat came as "very aggressive" emails with "indirect threatening innuendos attached to it." He added the council has received similar threats in the past.

"There was an issue recently about two to three months ago where there was an irate citizen that was generally upset with the council for a lack of action on an issue, and we have received concerns from council members regarding general security at meetings if this citizen were to show up," Jegeris told the committee.

Council member Steve Laurenti questioned spending that amount of money on security improvements and asked whether any simple remedies could be pursued to bolster security.

"It seems difficult for me to go along with the cost and the price right now, especially when we typically have police officers here as part of our security," said Laurenti, adding that he needed assurance that alternatives have been considered.

Council member Bonny Petersen shared Laurenti's concerns but said updating the chambers would help protect not only the council but also those who attend council meetings and city employees.

Jegeris said another discussion has been held regarding a comprehensive review of the building's security, noting that the building is "20 years behind the curve."

In other business Wednesday, the Legal and Finance Committee tabled a proposal to create a permitting process for special events on private property.

The committee also voted to continue an ordinance that would give the city's Human Relations Commission the power to enforce discrimination claims.

Contact John Lee McLaughlin at 394-8421 or john.mclaughlin@rapidcityjournal.com

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