Measures put in place to keep Brentwood municipal buildings, meetings safe
Employee safety is a top priority, according to Brentwood officials.
Borough manager George Zboyovsky was relieved that bulletproof windows and buzzer-entry doors were installed on Aug. 6 in the municipal building on Brownsville Road. Concerns were heightened after a fatal shooting at a council meeting in Ross Township, Monroe County, on Aug. 5.
“Safety has always been a concern,” Zboyovsky said. “I'm glad we didn't wait.”
Brentwood budgeted $20,000 last year to install the extra safety measures despite an estimated $6 million municipal building construction project set to begin within the year. Actual costs for the added security were $18,000.
Before the glass was installed, the public could enter the municipal building and walk up to the second floor or into the borough manager's office without stopping to sign in with administrative staff. The open access has resulted in problems in the past with disgruntled residents walking into the borough manager's office.
“We do shut-off sewage and have irate residents,” Zboyovsky said. “People walk right into the first door they see.”
Anyone who was asked to leave the building did so without an argument, Zboyovsky said.
Brentwood also takes extra measures at council meetings. A camera was installed in 2010 in council chambers with grant funds.
“The only disturbance we've had is to remove someone (residents) from a meeting two or three times,” police Chief Robert Butelli said. “There have been a few people that express their anger, but they usually leave peacefully.”
Baldwin-Whitehall School District had an incident on June 12 when the Whitehall police were called to remove Tom Barchfeld at the end of a school board meeting after he shouted at Martin Michael Schmotzer. Barchfeld lost a nomination for a seat on the school board to Schmotzer in May.
Barchfeld was not on district property when police arrived, Chief Donald Dolfi said in June about the matter.
Whitehall police rarely receive calls to respond to a government body's public meeting, Dolfi said.
An officer has been present at every school board meeting since the incident occurred. Requests for police presence are reviewed by Dolfi and Mayor James Nowalk. An officer is then scheduled to work overtime and the requesting organization must pay the costs, Dolfi said.
Following the incident, Nancy Sciulli DiNardo addressed the public at the June 19 meeting asking that residents refrain from swearing and approaching the bench.
“Maybe it's time to start looking at some more stringent procedures for the meetings as far as putting a limit on time,” Superintendent Randal Lutz said. “Right now there is no limit on time and the longer someone speaks at a microphone they have the ability to say more, and more sometimes leads to agitated responses.”
Brentwood and West Jefferson Hills School districts both limit public comment time to three and 10 minutes, respectively.
Jefferson Hills Borough asks that residents submit a request to comment prior to the meeting and limit comments to four minutes.
Police Chief Eugene Roach Jr. also is present at most meetings, said Andrew McCreery, outgoing finance director and acting borough manager.
Jefferson Hills has not had safety concerns at council meetings, McCreery said.
“You are always concerned about (public outbursts),” McCreery said. “You are always keeping a watchful eye.”
Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.