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SECURITY AT COUNTY HEADQUARTERS

BACKGROUND

As part of the Grand Jury's County Management review, it was decided security within the Board Chambers at the Begovich Building should be reviewed.

METHODOLOGY

Persons Interviewed:

  1. Board of Supervisors
  2. County Counsel
  3. Clerk of the Board
  4. Deputy Clerk of the Board
  5. Sheriff
  6. Jackson Police Dept. Administrative Assistant

A visit was made to the Board Chambers to observe its current security system. Section 25206 of the Government Code was also reviewed.

FACTS

  1. The Board of Supervisors holds regularly scheduled weekly meetings. Other meetings are held as deemed necessary.
  2. Some Board members and staff have expressed security concerns.
  3. Board members do not routinely request security from the Sheriff's Department at their meetings.
  4. Board members do request the presence of a Deputy Sheriff if they feel a volatile issue is on the agenda.
  5. Any citizen may address the Board under "Public Matters Not On the Agenda."
  6. The County recently installed a silent alarm system in the Board Chambers. When the alarm is activated, a signal is sent to the Sheriff's office. The Sheriff's Department then notifies the Jackson Police Department, who responds to the emergency.
  7. The Jackson Police Department responded to two calls at the Begovich Building during Board meetings in the last two years. Neither call was of a serious nature nor related to an agenda item.
  8. Government Code Section 25206 states in part, "The Board may direct the sheriff to attend, either in person or by deputy, all the meetings of the Board, to preserve order ..."
  9. Nationwide, current events suggest an increase in random, unexpected acts of violence.

CONCLUSIONS

  1. Although the Board of Supervisors has not had any serious problems in the past, some Board members and staff do have legitimate concerns for their personal safety at meetings due to possible confrontations and disruptions.
  2. Board members appear to be reluctant to request security at meetings due to budget and personnel constraints.
  3. The Board has the authority to request that security be provided.
  4. The current alarm system has a time delay from recognition of threat to arrival of officers and does not assure immediate intervention.

RECOMMENDATION

The Board of Supervisors should invoke their authority under Section 25206 of the Government Code and direct the presence of a deputy sheriff at all open meetings of the Board to provide safety and security for the public, the Board and its staff.


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