Metal detectors, private security coming to Buffalo City Hall in July

Starting July 5, visitors to Buffalo City Hall can expect to have to go through airport-style metal detectors and X-ray screening devices.

Common Council members Tuesday gave preliminary support to a beefed-up security plan that is expected to be approved next week and then begin operating right after the Independence Day holiday.

Under the plan, all visitors will go through metal detectors, and all bags will go through X-ray screening.

Visitors will not be required to show identification to enter the building, police said.

City Hall employees, on the other hand, will not be required to go through the screening as long as they have their City Hall identification with them.

Also, as part of the beefed-up security, there will be additional security cameras and a private security firm working in City Hall.

The private firm, G4S Security, will replace some, but not all, of the Buffalo police officers currently assigned to City Hall.

Under a $650,000 annual contract the Common Council is expected to approve at its June 7 meeting, security guards will be operating the screening equipment at the front and rear entrances to City Hall.

The screening will look for both guns and explosives, according to Buffalo police.

If an individual has a permit to carry a gun, the weapon will be kept at a security booth and returned when the person leaves City Hall, police said.

The Brown administration has said that City Hall is vulnerable to a breach in security, and most Council members agree.

During a discussion on the G4S contract Tuesday, Buffalo Police Lt. Jeffrey Rinaldo told members of the Council’s Finance Committee that G4S security guards assigned to City Hall will be either current or retired law-enforcement officers or retired military. The G4S guards will carry guns, but they will not have police powers. If an incident occurs in City Hall, the guards would immediately contact Buffalo Police.

Buffalo police officers currently assigned to the Mayor’s Office, the Common Council, the city treasury and Traffic Violations Bureau, as well as a police Internal Affairs substation, will continue working in City Hall, Rinaldo said.

But in a cost-saving move, the security guards will replace other officers who have been assigned to City Hall since the fall, when world events convinced the Brown administration to speed up plans to beef up security in the building.

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