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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Whether or not citizens will have to go through a medal detector to attend meetings in the renovated Ste. Genevieve City Hall boardroom will be decided at a future date.
The issue came up during last Thursday’s board of aldermen meeting as a line item under “New Business.”
Garrett Metal Detectors had given a bid of $6,000 for a walk-through metal detector for the boardroom, where meetings will resume in late February.
Ward 3 Alderman Joe Steiger objected.
“I don’t think it’s necessary. I will not vote in favor of buying a metal detector,” Steiger said. “I’m not spending six grand for something that is going to be hard to monitor, have multiple ways into the building. I just think it’s a waste of time and functionality of doing city business. You’re going to try to get everybody to go through a metal detector before a city meeting. We don’t have that many people show up, but I just don’t think it’s a good use. We already have, normally, a uniformed officer on site for every meeting. I think we’re fine for safety.”
Ward 2 Alderman Bob Donovan brought up a Feb. 2008 incident in which Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton shot and killed six and wounded a seventh person during a Kirkwood city meeting.
The shooting had had a local tie-in. North Main property owner George Wehner caused some concern in 2014, when he mentioned Thornton as he left a contentious city meeting.
Ward 4 Alderman Mike Raney asked Police Chief Jasen Crump his thoughts.
“It comes down to do you want to be proactive or reactive,” Crump said. “We do have a uniformed officer there. We’re going to act in a reactive mode. If somebody comes in and starts shooting, we’re going to react. How many is he going to kill in the process? We don’t know. This would be proactive, trying to eliminate him from getting in the building.
“It would be set up in the hallway. That’s the only way in and out. This isn’t for everyday business. This is strictly for meetings that are conducted in the boardroom.”
Steiger argued that a gunman could shoot the officer manning the metal detector, and then enter the chamber.
“I think it’s a false sense of security,” he said. “I’m not spending six grand for it.”
“I don’t know, I think it’s a pretty good idea,” Donovan said, “I mean, the world has changed.”
Raney asked Steiger whether it was the price that really bothered him, or the principal.
Steiger said it was the concept.
“A waste of money at any cost?” Raney asked.
“Probably,” Steiger replied.
It was finally agreed that no action would be taken on the issue at this time.