Forsyth County may increase spending for security in county facilities

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Forsyth County officials have been making changes to improve security in their county facilities.

“It’s a sad time, it really is a sad time, but you have to move forward and do what you think’s best for the county and for the employees,” said Forsyth County Commissioner Gloria Whisenhunt.

Following the San Bernardino shootings, the safety of government employees has been a hot topic. However, Forsyth County began looking into the issue a year ago.

“We’ve had angry people in the building, we’ve had some mentally challenged folks in the building where we thought there were some concerns,” said Forsyth County Manager J. Dudley Watts Jr.

The county hired an independent specialist to look into the security at each of their buildings.

“They found things that we immediately addressed,” Watts said.

Today, we are approaching another phase. Come Monday, commissioners will vote for which security company will take this on and whether or not to raise the amount of money which goes to security. Currently, Watts said the actual cost is above $800,000. The increase would be somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000, but Watts believes the cost will be on the lower end of that spectrum.

“We’re living in different times now than we’ve ever lived in,” Whisenhunt said. “I don’t think this could have come at a better time.”

The improvements would be in the systems in the facilities, locking mechanisms, security profiles, cameras and officer training. Currently, there are three separate companies which the county contracts with for security. The county will now consolidate, and use one company for all facilities. Among those companies are AlliedBarton and North State Security.

“I have always felt safe, but then when this happened in California it did open my eyes more,” Whisenhunt said. “If it can happen in California in their public health, it certainly can happen here.”

As for the current security officers currently employed by the other agencies, they will have a chance to work for the chosen security company, Watts said. However, the company will evaluate and recruit employees.

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