Town to spend $100,000 on se­cu­rity

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Glenn Grif­fith ggrif­[email protected]­gian.com @cn­weekly on Twit­ter

HALFMOON, N.Y. >> Last week’s Town Board ap­proval to spend nearly $100,000 on se­cu­rity up­grades at town fa­cil­i­ties is not be­ing done in a vac­uum. While not want­ing to spend quite so much, other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties nearby have also come to the same con­clu­sion; se­cu­rity at town fa­cil­i­ties is part of today’s world.

The Halfmoon Town Board unan­i­mously ap­proved the ap­pro­pri­a­tion after hav­ing held two ac­tive shooter drills in Town Hall in re­cent months and an over­all re­view of se­cu­rity from Saratoga County Sher­iff’s Deputy Ken Cooper.

“We’re look­ing at get­ting cam­eras, alarms, up­dated key fobs, door con­trols, door han­dles, re­place­ments for some doors, and slide locks for the doors,” Halfmoon Su­per­vi­sor Kevin Tol­lisen said. “We’ve got six build­ings to think about; Town Hall, the jus­tice build­ing, se­nior cen­ter, wa­ter depart­ment, the Parks and Recre­ation of­fice [build­ing] and the High­way Depart­ment build­ing. There’s a lot to do.”

Cooper said after hold­ing the ac­tive shooter drills in Town Hall he held a training ses­sion for the town’s em­ploy­ees. After­ward, he did a safety in­spec­tion of the build­ing.

“The cam­era sys­tem ap­peared ad­e­quate, but you have to give these peo­ple some­place to go in case the build­ing has to be locked down,” he said re­fer­ring to Halfmoon Town Hall. “They added some new locks, some fobs and got it so it can be locked down in case there’s an ac­tive shooter out­side. The plan is to limit ac­cess to the build­ing by hav­ing just one en­trance to the build­ing; which is a big deal for them.”

Cooper said not only is the sec­ondary ac­cess to Town Hall now fobbed, but a vis­i­tor can no longer get into the in­di­vid­ual depart­ment of­fices without knock­ing on the doors and be­ing rec­og­nized. They are all fobbed.

“Some­one will now man­u­ally have to get up and let you in those of­fices,” he said. “It was sim­ply way too easy [to get in].”

Cooper said he has gone to a few other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and was sched­uled to go to the Town of Ball­ston’s Town Hall this past week. Two of those other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are the Town of Malta and the Town of Clifton Park.

“A lot of these mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are do­ing the right thing to make sure their em­ploy­ees are safe,” Cooper said. “Halfmoon has six build­ings which are more than the oth­ers, but they are mov­ing for­ward.”

Cooper said most of the other towns have been good about tak­ing his ad­vice, though, he doubted the oth­ers were will­ing to spend the amount Halfmoon is about to spend.

“It doesn’t al­ways have to cost you money to make a build­ing safer,” he said. “Some­times it’s as sim­ple as tak­ing locks off some doors where there is no need and putting them on doors where there is. That won’t cost you money.”

Town of Malta Su­per­vi­sor Darren O’Con­nor said Cooper came to that town for a drill and a training ses­sion about three months ago. While there Cooper

looked at the Town Com­plex and the Malta Com­mu­nity Cen­ter.

“We didn’t spend an ex­or­bi­tant amount; it’s a grad­ual thing,” O’Con­nor said. “We did some things to con­trol ac­cess like putting in half doors to main­tain a space be­tween the pub­lic and the pri­vate ar­eas. We’re pick­ing away at his rec­om­men­da­tions.”

O’Con­nor said he wants to see the staff bet­ter pro­tected in the build­ings but he also wants to have them open and invit­ing to the pub­lic while not be­ing overly pro­tec­tive.

“We might make some bud­get trans­fers, but there are no great amounts,” he said. “It’s money for things like a buzzer to un­lock a door where the rest of the time the door re­mains locked.”

Town of Clifton Park Su­per­vi­sor Philip Bar­rett feels much like O’Con­nor where pub­lic con­ve­nience has to be bal­anced with build­ing se­cu­rity.

Bar­rett said the town’s lock fobs are com­puter ac­tive and al­low the town to de­ter­mine which doors un­lock, and which don’t. The town has also in­stalled light­ing and ac­cess gates at the trans­fer sta­tion that can be op­er­ated with a cell phone. A cam­era sys­tem is the next log­i­cal step, he said.

“There’s some things as a mu­nic­i­pal­ity we should do, but we still want it to be invit­ing for the pub­lic,” Bar­rett said. “I strug­gle with it. I don’t want there to be cam­eras every­where. I don’t want it to be too ob­tru­sive; it’s a pub­lic build­ing. But I agree, some are war­ranted. We’ll be­gin with Town Hall.”

Cooper said that his twoman team is av­er­ag­ing 12 to 15 ac­tive shooter ex­er­cises and training ses­sions per month. Not all are in schools and mu­nic­i­pal build­ings as they once were. He held an ac­tive shooter training ses­sion re­cently at the Saratoga-Sch­enec­tady En­doscopy Cen­ter in Burnt Hills and is plan­ning to meet with the man­age­ment of the new Han­naford store that just opened on Route 50 near the Vil­lage of Ball­ston Spa.

“We’re not just do­ing schools any­more,” Cooper said. “We’ve pretty much branched out to ev­ery­thing. I’ve got Wil­ton Mall on my to-do list.”

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