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New Security Measures Incoming for City Hall Include Armed Security Guards

In response the June 6 shooting at a municipal building in Virginia Beach, Alexandria is preparing to install tighter security measures at City Hall in Old Town.

A suite of new security measures was approved at the Sept. 24 City Council meeting, less than two weeks after the City Council prohibited firearms on city property.

New security improvements include:

  • Limiting building access to the Cameron Street and Market Square entrances
  • The addition of uniformed daytime security guards
  • The approval of arming City Hall security guards

“City employees who work in City Hall expressed concerns that they believed that the building was not safe due to the lack of security guards during daylight business hours,” said City Manager Mark Jinks in a memo.

The recommendations came out of the Old Town Campus Safety Committee created after the Virginia Beach shooting.

“Committee also recommended that the security guards be armed and be trained in de-escalation and customer service so they also augment the City’s priority to provide a friendly, helpful demeanor when interacting with members of the public,” Jinks said.

In Arlington, the County Board approved adding armed, private security guards for added security and cited similar concerns after the Virginia Beach shooting

The limited building access will mean the stairwells that lead directly into city offices and the City Council chambers will be accessible only by keycard holders only — though they will still be available as exits from the building.

“One of the major concerns of City employees and the Committee regarding City Hall are the number of entrances that visitors can utilize to access the facility during normal business hours,” Jinks said. “The City Manager authorized General Services to restrict access to City Hall through the East and West stairwell doors to City employee access cardholders only. Egress from the building by the public will still be permitted through these stairwell areas.”

The new security measures are estimated to cost $550,000 in capital costs with $200,000 in ongoing annual costs for security guards as well as monitoring and testing the security technology. The costs are planned to be funded with year-end surplus funds remaining from FY 2019.

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