It possible that a trip to the Carbondale Civic Center for a council meeting could soon result in having to walk through a metal detector and being searched for weapons.
There was about a 15-minute discussion at the Nov. 28 council meeting that led to the council directing city staff to bring back more information about the cost to the city.
"We have a couple instances where I knew we had a felon in the audience who was here because they are upset about something," Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry said. "We have no way of knowing if that individual has a weapon or not."
Most council members admitted the idea made them uneasy, but also understood the current climate in the world. "We are admitting everybody through the door," Henry said. "In some ways, it is admitting that we have a crime problem, but you know what, we have a crime problem. And everybody around us does, too."
Councilwoman Carolin Harvey said she was in favor of the detectors and it's not just felons she would be concerned about having firearms.
"I'm worried about anybody and everybody who could possibly have a weapon," she said. "I think it was a prudent safety precaution for us to take."
The city would have to add two additional officers for each council meeting. City Manager Gary Williams said it would run the city about $6,000 extra in overtime costs. He said the estimated cost to install a metal detector and X-ray machine is about $45,000.
"I think in reality, none of us like the idea, but it's the reality of the times we are in and the risk to the public and obviously you guys, but we think overall it is a real good enhancement," he said.
Councilman Jeff Doherty said he was also in favor of the detectors, recalling a time during his days as Carbondale city manager when he pulled the council out of the public view after the meeting became tense because he was fearful of their safety.
"We know of situations where there have been shootings at council meetings. It's very unfortunate, but you never know who may be coming in that door," Doherty said. "I think it is not only for the safety of the people sitting here, but the safety of the people sitting in the audience. It is probably something that is past due."