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County Officials Boost Security in Supervisor Chambers

Guards now search the belongings of those entering board meetings in San Bernardino County. Metal detectors will be installed soon.

March 24, 2004|Hugo Martin | Times Staff Writer

Citing a shooting in Riverside City Hall more than five years ago and a general concern over terrorist threats, San Bernardino County supervisors on Tuesday increased security at their meetings.

Private security guards posted in front of the supervisors' chambers began for the first time to search the purses and briefcases of people entering the weekly meeting.

Metal detectors will be installed in the next few weeks.

Supervisor Dennis Hansberger said the security increase was not prompted by any recent threat or incident.

Instead, he said, county officials have been considering increased security since a disgruntled former Riverside employee entered Riverside City Hall in 1998, shooting and wounding five people, including the mayor, two council members and two police officers.

Hansberger said plans to add new security measures gained urgency because of recent concerns about terrorism.

The searches and metal detectors will be used only on people entering the supervisors' chambers, not on those entering the County Hall of Administration for other services.

The Riverside City Council voted last month to remove the metal detector, X-ray system and other security measures that were added in response to the 1998 shooting.

In recent years, some council members have complained that the security measures were too costly and intimidating to the public.

Metal detectors have been used for years at the chambers of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council.

There are no such security devices at the Orange County Board of Supervisors chambers.

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