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FIRST ON 3: Security ramped up at New Hanover Co. Commission Meeting

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- New Hanover County Commissioners met today to discuss everything from the county budget to signs on Carolina Beach Road. One of the more interesting aspects of the meeting though was what it took to get in. There was additional security at the door and in the board room.

"We've been working on this for some time, and the Sheriff and I got together, and he said he had the equipment," County Manager Bruce Shell said. "It's just a question of whether to staff the people on the days of County Commissioner meetings."

Shell says the heightened security is because he believes the commissioners are dealing with serious issues, not because of any concerns internally.

"A lot of places have security just to get into the county administration building. We haven't gone that far, but we did feel like with the volatility of certain issues that is was prudent to do it at a County Commissioner meeting," Shell said.

Commission Chair Jonathan Barfield says if the county has the resources to increase security from two deputies to six, then it should. He says the county just wants to make sure everyone is safe.

"Looking at what's happening across our county, to make sure we're protecting all of the citizens here... we have the resources and security to do that kind of thing, so why don't we utilize it?" Barfield said. "Same thing when you walk into our court system. You have to walk through a metal detector to make sure no one is carrying anything they shouldn't be carrying."

Barfield says he has never felt unsafe at a meeting, but he thinks the increased security is a good idea.

Shell says you should expect this kind of security from here on out at County Commission meetings. He says he does not know if the metal detector will be a permanent fixture in the Historic Courthouse where the commission meets, but the county will try to make sure it is at all the commission meetings.

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