Tucson City Hall expected to heighten security measures

By Carissa Planalp

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson's City Hall is adding security measures but details on the plan are limited.

Council member Steve Kozachik confirms visitors will only be able to enter city hall through the north entrance.

When you walk inside the lobby, you'll find the front information desk has been stripped away from the wall, a number of orange construction cones are on the ground, and an unplugged metal detector stands near the hallway leading to the elevators.

A spokesperson for the office of Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says the Tucson Police Department is in charge of an expanded security plan which, according to a report from the Associated Press, will include metal detectors, cameras, and additional security staff to screen visitors and their check their bags.

Back in February, Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villaseñor confirmed at least one Tucson Police officer had been assigned to protect the mayor on a "temporary" basis.

Villaseñor also told Tucson News Now that a committee had discussed several options for security, and his recommendation was a mix of private security plus TPD presence.  He said it would be a "temporary pilot" to determine the effectiveness both on security and the City Hall working environment.

But Tucson Police say their role is to help the city figure out the best security options.

"Tucson Police provided a threat assessment for the building and with that we're assisting with implementing security procedures and providing training for those assisting with security," said Sgt. Chris Widmer with the Tucson Police Department.

The people who will be checking you and your bags will include a Tucson Police officer, but it will be the same officer who watches over the mayor.

Back in February, Tucson Police assigned an officer to protect the mayor. Once city hall expands its security plan, that officer will be helping a new security guard downstairs.

"City hall is a high profile public building and it has a lot of traffic in and out of it every day," Widmer said. "The goal here is just to make it a safer, more secure area for the employees, and the guests, and the visitors."

Tucson News Now is still trying to get answers on how much this extra security costs, but according to council member Kozachik, the costs were included in the new approved budget.

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