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updated: 1/23/2013 9:58 PM

Elgin OKs city hall security upgrade

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Elgin's city hall will be getting a security makeover.

The city council voted Wednesday night to award a $375,000 bid to Chicago-based general contractor F.H. Paschen to perform work including renovating the city council chambers and adding security measures such as a bulletproof dais, cameras, a metal detector at the entrance of city hall, protective concrete installations outside city hall, and more.

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The work inside the council chambers will be done over Presidents Day weekend in February, when court will not be in session, city officials said.

The goal is to provide "the right security" for today's society, City Manager Sean Stegall said.

"While (the security measures) may be compelling and draw the interest of people, they are not groundbreaking in any way," he said.

The project will consist of about $300,000 to renovate the city council chambers -- including space for two additional council members who will be elected in April -- plus combining community development offices into one area, which will create space for the city's 311 call center. The security improvements will amount to about $75,000.

The work will be funded by $50,000 from the Riverboat fund and the rest by the general fund, officials said.

"I felt safe here until you mentioned we're not safe. Now all of a sudden I'm really worried," Councilman Robert Gilliam said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

Councilman John Prigge pointed out the security improvements are not just aimed at protecting the city council, but members of the public as well.

Councilman Richard Dunne advised city staff members to consult with the Kane County chief judge to ensure the work is in compliance with any court security requirements.

Elgin Police Cmdr. Bill Wolf said the department didn't do a formal study about security measures in other suburban municipalities.

"Throughout the country, numerous cities are doing the same thing," he said.

The bulletproof dais would ensure protection if there were security breeches during metal detector scans, Wolf added. Right now, only where the mayor and judges sit is bulletproof, not the entire dais.

Mayor David Kaptain said he and Stegall began discussing additional security measures about a year ago.

"The tragedies in last few weeks really didn't play into this," Kaptain said, referring to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, among others. "We were planning to do this kind of thing anyway."

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