With the Police Station, Harbor Street Fire House and City Hall already beefed up for security purposes the City of Morro Bay will now look to shore up security at its other City offices.
Buried in the mid-year budget review on the Feb. 25 council agenda was an item to spend some $52,000 to beef up security at the Recreation Department in the Community Center, the Public Works Department, Adult Services (Senior Center, also in the Community Center), and Harbor Office.
Last year, City Hall had a wall installed separating the clerks from the public with two service windows set into a rather imposing white walls. Previously, there was essentially no security, with just a short service counter, and short hallway leading to the inner offices of City Hall brass.
Many years ago, the Police Station underwent a retrofit of the walls and service counter in the station lobby, as steel plates were affixed to the walls and doors. Police personnel now interact with the public behind a bulletproof locked glass window.
Those upgrades were done after two alarming incidents. In one, a man attacked the front doors to the station with a sledgehammer trying to get at his estranged girlfriend or wife who was inside the police station.
The other involved another man deliberately crashing a motorcycle into the front doors. He was quickly caught a couple of blocks away on his disabled motorcycle.
Security was done with the construction of the new Harbor Street Fire House, as glass and a locked door from the lobby of the station house separate the personnel living areas and inner offices. Those measures were part of the new station’s design.
The budget item would take $37,000 out of the “general government impact fees” account to upgrade the Rec Department, Senior Center and Public Works Office; and $15,000 out of the Harbor Fund Reserves to pay for beefing up the Harbor Office, which oddly enough, is also being looked at for complete replacement.
The upgrades at City Hall were enacted after the May 2019 mass shooting in Virginia Beach, Va., when a City employee gunned down 11 co-workers and a civilian who was at the department on business, wounded a half dozen others and died in a wild shootout with police.
That murderer, DeWayne Craddock, was an engineer in the town’s Public Works Department. He’d emailed his resignation to the city manager just hours before returning with a pair of handguns.
The public building where it took place had security measures, but as a City employee in good standing at the time, Craddock reportedly had ID access to all areas of City Hall. He shot people on each floor of the building.
Nevertheless, the incident shook bureaucrats from coast to coast including the Morro Bay City Manager.
“Mass shootings,” City Manager Scott Collins said in August 2019, “have become all too common in America and there are no easy solutions available to put them to an end. Churches, schools, and public agencies have all taken measures in recent years to improve safety of their facilities in the face of this potential threat. In response to tragedies like the one that (has) befallen on Virginia Beach, the City of Morro Bay, has also placed a focus on employee safety and security of our City buildings.”
His previous report listed City Hall, Public Works, the Recreation Department and the Harbor Office as “four City facilities that are deficient in safety for our employees and accessibility for our community members and employees.”
Also, in the case of City Hall, front desk clerks had just begun collecting newly hiked sewer and water bill payments from an irate public, taking a fair amount of abuse in the process and helping prompt the new security measures that City maintenance workers installed over a weekend at a cost of some $10,000.