Several years ago, the Meridian City Council purchased and installed a walkthrough metal detector outside the council meeting room. It has only been used on a hit or miss basis, sometimes yes, most times no.
Council president, Barbara Henson, said Friday that will change immediately.
"The mayor and Ken Storms and myself have all spoken with the chief of police and already measures are being taken to tighten the security," said Henson, "to make sure that no one goes around the metal detector. And also we have a sergeant at arms present at all times."
Meridian's mayor said the shootings in New York were a wakeup call for anyone in municipal government.
"Quite honestly, we have not been diligent in seeing that every single person who enters the council chamber walks through that metal detector," said Mayor John Robert Smith. "That will be the order of the day from now on."
Assistant chief of police, Keith McCary, admits security at the council chamber door has been lax.
"In the past, including the media, we haven't really checked them that closely because we knew them. We're lenient with them," said McCary. "From now on, anyone who comes to the council meeting will be subject to go through the metal detector, including city employees also."
How necessary is this security upgrade? A deputy sheriff, who works security at the Lauderdale County courthouse, told NewsCenter 11 at a recent interview that 19 guns were temporarily taken from people's purses, attaché cases and back pockets over a three-year period. The weapons ranged from 22 calibers to 45 automatics.