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Common Council educating against active shooters

Mike Desmond
Buffalo Police address the Common Council on active shooters.

The Buffalo Common Council is tightening security in its Council Chambers, in response to active shooter incidents across the country.

Security inside and outside City Hall gradually has been tightening. Most recently, visitors have to pass through metal detectors and armed guards, a massive security camera system has been installed and giant concrete bollards now form a perimeter around the building - and more is to come.

Last week, Council President Darius Pridgen told WBFO active shooter drills are not yet part of security protocols, but in the wake of the mass shooting at a church in Texas, he would be meeting with law enforcement to discuss criteria.

Tuesday, Pridgen brought two police officers into the Council meeting to talk about security and what to do if there is an active shooter. They had spoken at Pridgen's True Bethel Baptist Church on Sunday.

Det. Sgt. Cedric Holloway said people fleeing the building have to be careful.

"If you are actually fleeing the building, please just have hands up, fingers spread," Holloway said. "We don't know who the bad guy is, as of yet. We have to show and try to figure out who this guy is and hopefully from the 911 calls that citizens have made, we'll have a good description of the individual."

Holloway said those descriptions are important because SWAT may not be on the scene, leaving the initial effort to patrol. He told Council members these incidents can occur in as little as four minutes.

Fifty-three years ago an armed man came into City Hall and robbed the Treasurer's Office on the first floor. There is a police officer stationed in that room to this day.

Pridgen said there also are new rules for the media, restricting access to tighten security.

"Stipulating some things that were already in writing, whether the ropes up and just asking people to respect the process that if they want to see a Council member, that they let that Council member know," Pridgen said, "because at the end of the meeting, we have so many people at times that bombard the floor, it is very difficult for our security team to watch everybody and keep everybody safe."

The security plans call for staff members to be between media and Council members and tell members a reporter wishes to talk to them. Pridgen said he also will be reminding people of where the exists are at each Council meeting.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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