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Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 6:10 am | Fair 47º


Santa Barbara County Security Committee Plans Employee ID Badges, Safety Upgrades

A committee of Santa Barbara County officials has been developing security upgrade recommendations since the shootings in a San Bernardino County building, and the group presented those plans to the Board of Supervisors this week.

Committee members include personnel from law enforcement and the County Executive Office, and the group will use $700,000 in budgeted funds for security upgrades, including countywide identification badges, more safety training, and facility improvements.

There is no project list yet, but some of the money will be spent on building protected front entries, more audio and visual equipment, and additional lighting around county facilities including parking lots. Those projects should be finished by next spring, county staff said.

A vulnerability and threat assessment is underway, but departments that get a lot of irate customers will likely be on the top of the list for improvements, committee members said.

The committee’s short-term recommendations are going to be implemented in the next several months, including identification badges for all county staff, which allows employees to quickly identify each other and potentially unauthorized people in non-public areas, according to a staff presentation.

“Obviously what we’re trying to do is reassure employees that being at work is as safe a place to be as it possibly can be,” Third District Supervisor Doreen Farr said.

The County Executive Office is testing out a local alert/panic button system, the Lynx ePanic Button, which can send alerts to local employees and emergency responders, the committee told the board.

The county plans to supplement its web-based safety training, and Second District Supervisor Janet Wolf suggested that departments be aware they can get individual assessments with the Sheriff’s Department.

“We can look at videos, but every situation, every makeup of a department, is different,” she said.

Fifth District Supervisor Steve Lavagnino said the county needs to keep a balance when considering security measures.  

“When someone comes in to pay their property tax bill, we don’t want them to feel like they’re going through security at LAX,” he said. “The average everyday person is just there to conduct business.”

During the board discussion of the report, Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam asked Sheriff Bill Brown to reconsider his policies on issuing (rather, not issuing) concealed-carry permits.

“We need to rethink the way we’re disarming our public,” Adam said, asserting that more guns in the community would stop active shooters.

“We can do a safety class and have all the training, and there is only one thing that stops these people and we can’t have a cop on every corner in every room,” he said.

Wolf said she had the opposite opinion, and believes more guns on the street will not make people safer.

“Folks have to realize and understand guns should be carried by law enforcement officials and that should be the norm,” she said.

She cited the Dallas shooting where sheriff’s deputies and transit officers, who had guns, were targeted and shot.

“Not only that but citizens in the crowd had guns and certainly that did not stop that terrorist from shooting the police,” she said.

“It is not, in my opinion, a panacea to the security issues we have. There’s never a guarantee of safety in this world, unfortunately – that’s just the nature of living.”

The Board of Supervisors took no action but filing the report from the security committee, which will continue meeting monthly. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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