By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
Northumberland County officials decided on Tuesday to install metal detectors in the county administration building in the wake of the horrific Aug. 5 shooting at a public meeting in Monroe County that left three dead.
The motion was made during a salary board meeting prior to the regular meeting of the commissioners.
Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Steve Bridy and Controller Tony Phillips voted in favor of the installation. Commissioner Rick Shoch voted against the proposal because he said county officials were acting in haste. Shoch said he wanted to see a plan in place first.
Reacting to a motion made by Bridy to install the metal detectors and hire two part-time guards at 20 hours each a week, Shoch said: “We are no more or no less at risk than we were a month ago. Like I said before, I think it’s a good idea but we can’t have a knee-jerk reaction to what happened and we have had no input from the sheriff’s department or our own security here at the administration building.”
Bridy responded: “We have actually contacted the sheriff’s department. Our chief clerk called and was told they were understaffed.”
Clausi voted in favor of the move because he said he has an obligation to protect residents and elected officials.
“We have to do this,” he said. “We want to make sure everyone is protected.”
Phillips said the county administration deals with high volumes of cash, and he thought it was a smart move to act immediately.
“I’ve been saying we needed to do something,” Phillips said. “We deal with money, and we need to make sure employees are safe at all times.”
The good news for the county is they already have a metal detector that has been in storage for several years, Bridy said.
“Our technology department guys will install this and it will cost very little,” he said. “The people who will be hired will be paid the starting rate of the union employees even though they will not be entitled to benefits,”
Bridy said the starting pay is about $10 an hour.
“Will this stop a crazy man?” Bridy asked. “No. But it will be some sort of deterrent.”