What’s being done to secure Richmond’s government buildings in wake of Virginia Beach mass shooting?

Taking Action

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The tragedy at the municipal center in Virginia Beach has led to an increase in calls for security in the City of Richmond’s government offices.

On May, 11 civil servants and a contractor were gunned down at a government complex in Virginia Beach. In an effort to keep city workers and citizens safe, security guards are working inside Richmond’s City Hall building.

RELATED: ‘The most devastating day’: 12 killed, several injured in Virginia Beach shooting

8News got its hands on the city’s contract with Allied Barton Security Services, the company employing the security guards.

Who are they?

The contract states that a total of six security guards with staggering shifts are stationed inside the busy public building. In addition, an increased police presence can be seen at City Hall.

8News learned the security guards aren’t limited to just City Hall. Richmond has more than 100 guards patrolling it’s government buildings including the Department of Public Utilities operations center, the wastewater treatment plant, garages and libraries.

What are they trained and contracted to do in the event of an emergency?

All guards are trained to assist with emergency evacuations. Some of them are armed with guns. The contract indicates some can carry a Smith and Wesson .38 caliber.

What more could be done to keep city workers and citizens safe?

City Councilman Michael Jones of Richmond’s 9th District wants to see extra protections in place.

“Where we are right now, I know we are not doing enough,” Councilman Jones said. “There’s so much more that we can do.”

While there may be armed guards at City Hall, the security desk sits at just one of the four entrances, leaving some spots unmanned. That’s a concern for city Councilwoman Reva Trammel.

Trammel told 8News, “they can go anywhere they want here, anywhere, all over, they’re not checked.”

Councilman Jones wants to bring back metal detectors to City Hall. The detectors were installed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They were removed in 2005 under Mayor Doug Wilder’s leadership.

“There are so many different things that we can do to help our current security guards do their jobs better,” Councilman Jones said.

Although, metal detectors won’t prevent someone from legally carrying and entering the building with a gun. Jones said, “we can at least know who has a gun, where they’re going, what type of business they are coming to transact.”

“If anyone comes to meet with me at City Hall and I am told they have a gun, that meeting will get rescheduled,” Councilman Jones said.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney is pushing to ban the carrying of any class or firearm in city-owned buildings and parks altogether but ultimately Virginia’s General Assembly would have to sign off on the ordinance.

RELATED: City Council votes to approve Stoney’s ordinance banning guns in city buildings, parks

Richmond’s new police chief Will Smith is reviewing the city’ security and is expected to release a plan on how to make it stronger.

Chief Smith said he supports Mayor Stoney and Councilman Jones’ proposal.

“For us, it’s about having another tool available to us to help prevent violence from occurring,” Chief Smith said.

The challenge to increasing security at city buildings is that the public needs access to places like City Hall to pay utility bills, dispute parking tickets and pick up permits.

The challenge to increase security at city buildings is that the public needs access to places City Hall to do business like dispute parking tickets, pay utility bills and pick up permits.

8News has uncovered that there have been several scares from council room scuffles to police finding a hatchet in the bag of a man who barged into the Mayor’s office in 2013.

RELATED: Virginia Senate adjourns special session until November 18

Jones told 8News about another concerning incident at a recent City Council meeting.

“There was a gentleman there, right as our paper was introduced who said he was able to place a package under the City Attorney’s Desk,” Jones said. “That raised the hair on the back of my neck.”

From January 2018 to July 29, 2019, 15 calls for service to City Hall have been called. 13 for disorderly conduct and 2 calls for trespassing at the building.

Those numbers are significantly lower than in 2012 when 8News uncovered police had received 130 disorderly conduct calls and 20 calls for trespassing. In 2011, police were called to City Hall 149 times for reports of trespassing and disorderly conduct.

City Council recently passed a measure to study its current security plan and to look into the cost of metal detectors.

Stay with 8News for updates.

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