Chief Spry updates Kannapolis City Council on city hall security measures

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 2, 2024

KANNAPOLIS — The Kannapolis City Council voted at its March 25 meeting to begin enforcing the ordinance of not allowing weapons in city buildings. In order to do this, the council decided that installing metal detectors on site would be the best option. 

During the April 22 city council meeting, Chief of Police Terry Spry provided an update on how matters have progressed since those initial discussions. 

Spry said he has received quotes from Point Security Inc., a Lexington-based security equipment company, for a “non-permanent fixture” described as two, six-and-a-half-foot poles for people to walk through. Spry said its frequency is adjustable and if it goes off, handheld wands can be used to ensure everyone’s safety. When the topic of “ghost guns” or an untraceable firearm was raised, Spry said the detectors would “most likely” locate them. Anyone attending a meeting with a bag in their possession is subject to a search if the metal detectors go off. 

The price of the metal detectors is $21,300 and the personnel cost of having two city employees manage security is $16,600 in salaries, bringing the total amount for the first year of implementation to $37,900. Spry said the equipment was expected to be ordered by the end of the week of the meeting and it would be delivered in less than a week. 

The recommendation at the March meeting was that the equipment would be set up right outside the executive conference room where meetings take place, but Spry said it can be moved easily to the building’s main double door entrance and be put together in just a few minutes. If someone leaves the conference room, they will need to be searched every time they re-enter it. 

“It seems like just to put the unit right there at the front door is not nearly as protective as it would be to put it in the first foyer and have it pretty much all the time to protect everybody,” Mayor Darrell Hinnant said. 

Mayor Pro Tem Doug Wilson pointed out that, as of now, Kannapolis does not know if anyone brings a gun or other weapons into the building. Wilson mentioned talking to a resident recently who had a gun with her at a previous meeting. 

“We are currently practicing under an honor system,” Spry admitted.  

Spry said having a weapon inside city hall is a misdemeanor offense. Rather than strictly concentrating on enforcing the ordinance, Spry said educating the public will be important when transitioning from “an honor system” to security checks due to the possibility of some individuals facing discipline for being unaware of the new guidelines. 

Hinnant voiced his concerns on how the whole process has transpired without an official notice from the city to residents about the security measures.

“I think in some ways, this is moving way too quickly before we can get all the pieces and parts that we know that need to be written down as to how we operate,” Hinnant said. “If we’re going to do this, we need to stand up to the public and say, ‘Don’t come in this building with a gun’ because they’re going to get caught.”

Spry said he will work with city staff to write a proposal notifying the public of the changes.