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Montgomery Enacts Security with Metal Detector Screening for Township Committee Meetings

By Barbara A. Preston | July 8, 2022

People who wish to attend a Montgomery Township Committee meeting in person must first walk through a metal detector. Police rolled out the new security protocol at the Thursday, July 7 committee meeting.

A paper sign at the meeting hall entry door read: "All persons and property subject to search prior to entry — Montgomery Township Police."

Similar to airport security, cell phones, bags, and other loose belongings must be left on a table, visible to inspection, prior to entry. Folks are allowed to wear their shoes.

Montgomery Township Police Officer Timothy W. Dubovick oversees the new procedure to enter Township Committee meetings at the new Montgomery Municipal Center.

"In light of what is going on in the world, we want to play it safe," said Mayor Devra Keenan. Montgomery has not had a particular incident, she said. "It's more of a threatening environment, for example, people going to a July 4th celebration and being killed."

Keenan referenced the mass shooting at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, where a 21-year-old man killed seven people and injured more than two dozen. "We want to be safe, rather than sorry," she said during a telephone interview with The Montgomery News.

Two police officers in uniform will attend meetings going forward.

Police officers will also oversee the Garrett PD 6500 walk-through metal detector, which provides advanced security detection. "PD stands for pinpoint detection," according to the manufacturer. "It will accurately locate metal objects, such as guns and knives, in one of 33 zones." It also has a discrimination program that can be set to allow innocuous items, such as keys or wristwatches, to pass through without creating an alarm.

Acting Police Director Tom Frascella attended the meeting. He said the new security was part of a proactive approach to security. "We’ve introduced new safety measures, just at the township committee meetings for now. It's to make people feel safe."

Hopefully, it provides peace of mind for elected officials and meeting attendees.

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Safety measures to safeguard our local democracy.

Montgomery Township is not the only municipality with metal detectors — though it was tough to find another one on a Friday in July. One city, Anaheim, California explains why they do it on their website.

"Anaheim's safety measures are designed to safeguard our local democracy," according to their website. "We will make every effort to ensure that safety measures do not prevent someone from speaking before Anaheim City Council."

Montgomery Mayor Keenan agreed that she wanted people in Montgomery Township to "feel free to voice their opinions at public meetings without fear." Also, she added, "Montgomery has "the most diverse township committee in the state. Members on the committee need to feel safe."

The Montgomery News has noticed some friction at township committee meetings in last six months, with some public speakers seeming to harass elected committee members by insulting them, arguing with them, and uninvitedly approaching the dais.

The first Montgomery Township Committee meeting in the new Montgomery Municipal Center was held Thursday, July 7. As it was the week of the Fourth of July holiday, attendance was sparse.


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