Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Council Chamber Visitor Screening

Visitors planning to attend Council meetings in Chamber will soon have to undergo security screening to get in.

“Keeping citizens, employees and Council members safe is our number one priority so we regularly review and assess security processes in municipal facilities,” says Owen Key, Chief Security Officer and Manager of Corporate Security. “We reviewed Council Chamber in 2014 and several improvements were identified to increase safety and security in that area.”

Starting September 14, there will be a new visitor screening process requiring everyone to pass through a metal detector or undergo screening using a hand-held wand and have their bags, backpacks and purses checked. The height of the glass partition between the public and Council seating areas has been raised by 35.5 cm and the number of guards in Council Chamber will be increased when Council is in session.

“Security measures are similar to what Calgarians experience when attending sporting events or concerts,” said Owen. “Standard screening should take 10-15 seconds per person, and while we don’t anticipate it will cause line-ups, on those days when there is a long agenda or public hearing, it’s best to arrive early to avoid any delays.”

The following items are prohibited inside Council Chamber:
  • Food and beverages;
  • Weapons, including mace or pepper spray;
  • Illegal drugs or substances;
  • Firearms and ammunition of any type;
  • Explosives and flammable substances;
  • Noisemakers; and
  • Knives, blades, razors, edged or sharp objects and striking devices. A kirpan with a blade less than six (6) cm in length may be brought into Council Chamber. The kirpan must be identified by the carrier and it must remain sheathed while in Council Chamber.

Metal Detectors
  • Metal detectors operate at a very low frequency of electromagnetic pulses, which are lower than levels in a cell phone or garage door opener. There is no exposure to radiation.
  • Visitors do not have to remove shoes, belts or jackets to pass through the metal detector. They will be asked to empty pockets prior to passing through.
  • Individuals with service animals must walk through the metal detector with the animal. If the alarm sounds, screeners will manually inspect the individual and the animal using a hand-held detection wand.
  • Visitors should advise security staff if they have a medical implant that may set off the metal detector. Those visitors will require additional screening with a hand-held wand.
  • Visitors in wheelchairs or strollers will undergo screening with a hand-held wand.
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