Trespasser at City Hall Raises Security Concerns

RICHMOND (WRIC)—A 65-year-old man is
in custody after attempting to push his way into Mayor Dwight Jones' office
Tuesday afternoon.

Around 5 p.m. on Oct. 8, Nathaniel
Burwell tried to enter Jones' second-floor office at City Hall. Richmond Police
arrested him for trespassing when he refused to leave. Officers say they found
a hatchet in a bag Burwell left at a guard's post on the first floor. Burwell
frequents City Hall and has a lengthy criminal history that includes
trespassing, disorderly conduct and a concealed weapons charge.

This, naturally, brings up safety

Several city employees told 8News that this was not the first time police have
had to escort an unruly person out of the building; Councilwoman Reva Trammel
has been calling on the mayor for tighter security at City Hall for years.

“[Visitors] can go anywhere they
want here—anywhere, all over; they're not checked,” she said.

While there are security guards in
the building, they sit at only one of four entrances. Trammel points out that
they are not armed like the mayor's personal security detail is.

“We don't have $400,000 worth of security like he does,” she said. “I
don't know what Mr. Mayor is thinking about it. I mean what about all of City
Hall, all the employees that work here?”

There used to be metal detectors in the building, but they were removed in 2005
under former Mayor Doug Wilder. Now there are panic buttons located
sporadically throughout the building.

One of the security guards admits
that if a serious emergency with an armed suspect arose, there's not much he
could do.

“I am not armed, so I would have to back out and try to call the police,”
he said.

There are usually two Richmond
Police officers in council chambers during formal City Hall meetings, but they
are not there during committee meetings or during the day.

The Mayor's Office said Tuesday's
incident raises concerns about internal security and it is now under review.


Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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