Florida city considers adding security for officials

Town researching security for commission meetings following school board shooting in Bay County


SANFORD, Fla. --

The school board shooting in the Panhandle and the Arizona massacre have leaders thinking twice in Seminole County's largest city, and now they're shopping around for the best security they can buy.

"I think you reach a point when it's not fair to the public to seal the officials, or the elected officials, off to the public," Sanford City Manager Tom George said.

The city manager is now researching all the options, ten days after Sanford County Commissioner Dr. Velma Williams suggested putting up bullet-proof glass between commissioners and citizens at commission chambers. She was reacting to the recent assaults on public officials.

First, in December, a gunman opened fire at Bay County school board members. Then, a gunman set his sights on Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Finally, as WFTV reported January 14 (read report), police are investigating threatening letters written to two Seminole County principals and the superintendent.

And, while Sanford leaders haven't received any threats themselves, their safety has become increasingly important.

"We're looking at metal detectors," George said. "Escape routes, increased security and more police presence."

Another option is putting up armor behind the dais where commissioners sit; that way they have a place to seek shelter until police can step in.

But more protection means more money from taxpayers. A metal detector could cost upwards of $5,000.

Residents WFTV talked to didn't seem to mind.

"Yes, let's protect them. Let's not leave them hanging, because it could be your father, your mother," said Sanford resident Pastor Michael Vallot.

City officials are still researching how much the bulletproof glass or armored desks would cost.

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