City, county go overboard with heightened security
On March 29, the Buffalo Common Council voted to place metal detectors and armed security guards at the front and back entrances of City Hall. The very same day, the Erie County executive followed suit and called for the addition of 15 new security guards and deputies, fortification of building entrances and the placement of metal detectors at all entrances to the Rath Building. Local leaders claim that the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino prompted the need for increased protection. The cost of these beefed-up security measures will be borne by taxpayers.
There have been a handful of active shooter incidents at city hall buildings over the past four decades, the most tragic involving the 1978 assassination of San Francisco Board of Supervisors Member Harvey Milk, by Dan White, who crawled through an open window in order to avoid metal detectors.
Both the state and federal constitutions guarantee Americans the right to free speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Citizens are less likely to invoke these rights if they have to pass through a gantlet of armed security guards and metal detectors in order to meet with elected representatives and public servants. Fortification of City Hall and the Rath Building will make government less accountable and do little, if anything, to make us who work in City Hall safer.
Michael Kuzma, Esq.