Tucson shootings bring to light safety at local public buildings

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - The shooting of 20 people, including a U.S. Congresswoman, at an outdoor "Congress on Your Corner" event in Arizona has many Americans questioning their own safety as they go about their daily lives.

In Oneida County, officials are currently re-examining security at the county office building because the building is currently undergoing renovations. County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr. says balancing security with free access to a public building requires a delicate balance.

"We are in the process of determining what's the best approach and enhancements we can make. It does go back to access to the building and how we centralized that," says Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Jr.

"You have to be aware of the need for security in any building that has individuals coming in on a daily basis that are facing dire circumstances," says County Social Services Commissioner Lucille Soldato. Some social service offices in the county office building are secure and requires pass keys for entry. This time last year, a 35-year-old woman was charged with assault for allegedly striking a social services employee. In November of 2008, two women were arrested after allegedly getting into a fight over who was going to be first in line at the social services temporary assistance line.

Also of concern in the Oneida County Office Building-the Grand Jury-which produces all criminal indictments in the county. The District Attorney's Office, which prosecutes all criminal cases, is on the 9th floor of the County Office Building.

County Executive Picente says magnetometers have been considered, but are an expensive endeavor. He also points out that it's not just a matter of securing the County Office Building; that the county has satellite offices and annexes throughout the county.

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