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Security at City Hall becomes an issue

Buffalo's police commissioner believes there should be tighter security in City Hall, but he stopped short of recommending that uniformed officers or metal detectors be placed at building entrances.

Meanwhile, the city comptroller said he thinks metal detectors should be among the options considered as officials launch a review of building security. Andrew A. SanFilippo said the costs of the machines could be financed by selling city bonds. What about the recurring costs of paying personnel to monitor entrances?

"You can't put a price on people's lives," SanFilippo replied. "Every other government office building protects its employees and people who are there to conduct business. This building is unprotected."

Security issues in City Hall resurfaced earlier this month, shortly after the massacre in Tucson, Ariz. Ellicott Council Member Darius G. Pridgen called for a review of building security, saying he is concerned about the "vulnerability" and "safety" of people who work in or visit City Hall.

A police officer is stationed outside the mayor's second-floor office, and an officer is assigned to the first-floor treasury. However, no uniformed guards are stationed at the main building entrances.

Pridgen's concerns were viewed as ironic by some who noted that the newly elected lawmaker has a gun permit. A number of City Hall employees grumbled that he of all people should feel safe.

"This isn't about my safety -- it's about everyone's safety," said Pridgen, who confirmed that he has a gun permit.

Commissioner Daniel Derenda was asked about building security Thursday when he appeared before the Council's Police Oversight Committee.

"I think more security is needed at City Hall. How much? I guess that's up for debate," Derenda said.

The commissioner said the recent tragedy in Tucson underscores the vulnerability that individuals face in public settings.

"You never know what people are thinking," Derenda said. "As you've seen in Arizona, you have people doing crazy things, for lack of a better word."

e-mail: bmeyer@buffnews.com

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