Southampton Town officials will increase security at Town Hall this spring, a change spurred by the nationwide rise of fatal mass shootings in public places.
Visitors to the Hampton Road building are not currently logged or monitored, but will soon have to scan a government-issued ID, such as a drivers license, to enter. The town plans to install a check-in desk staffed by a guard and add electronic card readers for staffers at the building’s five entry doors by May 1, though the building’s two main entrances will remain unlocked during business hours.
“This will be a good thing,” said Steven Troyd, Southampton code compliance and public safety administrator, during a town board work session on Thursday. “It’s security for the public, security for the people who work here.”
Troyd, a former FBI agent, said he and other members of the town’s security subcommittee have been discussing the measures since shortly after he was hired in August 2017. The new policy will allow the town to track all those who enter Town Hall and ban unwanted visitors.
“The world is changing,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said last week. “Unfortunately, government facilities can be targets.”
Long Island school districts have reported a surge in threats since the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, that left 14 students and three teachers dead. In the weeks since, local districts have re-evaluated their security plans, and two districts — Miller Place and Hauppauge — have hired armed guards.
No reported threats have been made to Southampton Town Hall or toward town officials, Troyd said.
The door modifications are expected to cost $63,000 and will be funded through money in the town budget allotted for capital improvements.
The desk will be staffed Monday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. It will cost $75,000 per year to staff the desk, which officials said could be covered by an expected $1.2 million fund balance in the budget.
The guard stationed at the entrance will be the first point of contact for those entering the municipal building and will also likely offer directions for visitors. Town officials have discussed placing a representative from the town citizens’ response center at the desk to ease the transition.
“It has to fit with the culture of the community and it has to be done gradually,” Troyd said of the changes. “We don’t want to alienate anyone.”
Southampton is not the first Long Island town to implement such a policy. Government-issued identification is needed to enter Islip, Huntington and Brookhaven town halls.