March 1st, 2024

City of Medicine Hat security review at forefront after Edmonton incident

By COLLIN GALLANT on January 27, 2024.

City hall facility managers are considering security upgrades after a man stormed Edmonton's civic building this week and fired several shots before he was subdued.--News photo Collin Gallant

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Officials are reviewing building security at Medicine Hat city hall after a man fired a rifle and started a fire at Edmonton’s civic building earlier this week.

No one was injured and the man faces charges, but local officials are highlighting a general security review that has been ongoing and could result in changes this spring.

Corporate services division managing director Dennis Egert, whose portfolio includes municipal facilities, told a council committee on Thursday that building security has been an ongoing area of discussion for several years.

In the coming months, citizens could see changes in the main lobby, a reconfiguration of the security desk and other physical changes that would help security guards better respond to a potential threat.

“It’s important that city hall remains open and accessible to citizens,” he said during an overview of the issue, adding that lockdown drills have taken place “regularly,” though they have not been publicized.

Coun. Robert Dumanowski, a school principal, said school boards as well as most large employers take security risks very seriously and the city should, too.

“We have had a safe environment, but it’s important we be prepared for the worst case scenario,” said Dumanowski, the committee’s chair.

On Tuesday, a man entered Edmonton city hall, threw a Molotov cocktail and fired several shots with a long-gun before he was tackled by an unarmed security guard and held for police.

He is in custody. At this point, police have not outlined a motive.

In recent years in Medicine Hat, restrictions now keep the uninvited general public from entering back office areas at city hall. A new swipe-card system keeps the public and non-essential personnel away from computer servers and city hall’s mechanical systems.

Egert said regular discussions are held with the Southern Alberta Commissionaires, which provides security for the building on contract. Those could inform further changes, and Egert said discussions with other municipalities can the helpful.

Medicine Hat elected officials said they support the review, and protocols should be discussed with non-employees who visit the building regularly.

“I would feel better about it,” said Coun. Cassi Hider.

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