Security upgrades at city hall may cost $100,000

To make some of what is believed to be needed upgrades at Tucson City Hall will cost in excess of $100,000, first time expense.

Then there's the cost of staffing, so it will be much higher in the long run.

The cost estimate was made by a working group which has been assessing needed security upgrades for several months.

Also being discussed is a potential bodyguard for Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, however that was not part of the working groups conversation or recommendation.

"The body guard for the mayor, I think, came from the police department's assessment of potential risks," says Ron Lewis, who was a member of the group and is the city operations manager.

The group presented a list of potential recommendations to the city manager's office two weeks ago.

Lewis says the list went from extreme to next to nothing.

"We can lock everything down tight and screen everybody of we can let everybody in like we do today," he says. "Or we can do something in between."

It will be the police department's decision as to what gets done. Part of the decision will be based on taxpayer concerns and part on the concerns about city workers.

"I think across the county there have been enough significant issues at government buildings that it's only proper to look at security at city hall," says Tucson's police chief Roberto Villasenor.

The police chief took a working copy of the recommendations to Phoenix this weekend so it appears a deacons will come soon.

As to whether the mayor gets a bodyguard "my feeling is that won't be the case," says  Rothschild.

What seems to be at the heart of the issue is the easy access people have to city hall.

To date there are no scanners, x-ray machines or metal detectors in the lobby.

People freely pass through to the elevators with the only security coming from a private guard and Tucson Police officer who sit in the lobby.

They don't stop anyone unless there is suspicion.

Even the mayor says some people fall through the cracks.

A police officer was called to the mayor's office following a recent press conference to be remove someone who was causing a problem. No other details are available.

Tucson had more security four years ago but it was removed by former city leaders.

Some city workers told Lewis at the time, they were not happy the security was lifted.

"It comes and goes as to what kind of security we have," Lewis says.

In this case, his working group "was focused on city hall in its entirety."

As for the mayor, he says "you certainly don't want to be over secure or over protected but at the same time you want to make sure everyone in the building is safe."