by Lisa Tome
Since the first Tuesday in July, a Cecil Sheriff's Deputy has been in attendance at the county council work sessions.
That means that tax dollars were spent to supervise the council when that deputy could have been performing other duties.
"I've never been afraid for my safety. They (constituents) scream and holler at me," said council vice president Alan McCarthy. But he said he is glad people turn out at meetings to express their views.
McCarthy said he is "against" having Cecil Sheriff's Deputies at the council work sessions. "My subjective opinion is that it seems to provide a moderating effect on a certain council person," said McCarthy. "Your elected officials have a responsibility to act polite and respectful. We are grown people. We are hired by you (the voters). We have a responsibility to not act like a bunch of jerks who need a police officer to supervise us."
Council manager James Massey said last week that he was charged with the task of asking the sheriff's office to provide deputies for the work sessions.
"We've asked for one every time since right after the election. I plan to discontinue asking for one," said Massey. Who said that deputies will appear sporadically at council work sessions and at their night meetings in the future. "We realize it takes resources away from the sheriff's office," said Massey.
Having a uniformed deputy at meetings is just a tip of the iceberg. Massey said that the county is in the process of instituting an array of security measures at the Cecil County Administration Building on Chesapeake Boulevard. He said there have not been any incidents. The security upgrades are a precautionary measure.
Massey said that high profile incidents and mass shootings have provided he and other county officials with a heightened sense for the need of security measures.
Those who visit the county building will now have to sign in and out at the reception station near the building's entrance. The staff in the building will also have to wear their security badges daily. There have also been training classes in safety and security. Massey also brought other undisclosed security measures suggestions from his former job in Harford County. County Executive Tari Moore also attended classes regarding security measures.
The county building currently does not have signs that ban weapons from the building. That may also change. Window shades in the meeting room are also kept closed at all times.
"You're not looking for trouble but you want to be proactive at all times within reason. We need to be responsible," said Massey. "We're not going back to guards and metal detectors but we are taking minor precautions. It makes good sense to try to keep people safe."