GILLETTE, Wyo. – The Campbell County Commissioners on Tuesday approved forming a physical security committee to identify ways to better protect county employees and visitors to county facilities.
The committee would look to develop physical security policies based on analysis by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to Campbell County Emergency Management Coordinator David King, who said the report was undertaken at the request of Commission Administrative Director Denton Knapp.
King said the analysis focused on employee and public safety within county facilities, like Children’s Developmental Services and the Campbell County courthouse. It looked at what could be done or changed in terms of physical security which could include things like metal detectors outside courtroom doors or electronic locks for county buildings.
When fully formed, King expressed hope that the committee will include members from the Gillette Police Department, Campbell County Sheriff’s Office, Campbell County Fire Department, other county departments, and Campbell County Health.
There is a need for physical security measures at county facilities, according to King, who said that some county employees are often on the frontline when a disgruntled resident comes into areas like the Commissioner’s Office.
While a lot of people think the county has the sheriff’s office as its own private police force, it’s actually the Gillette Police Department that is tasked with responding to issues at the courthouse and that could take anywhere from five minutes assuming there is an officer at City Hall who can respond immediately, per King.
Commissioner Del Shelstad, who is on the committee, cautioned against using physical security measures to restrict public access to the “people’s buildings, though he also said that he understood the need and that some protocols like locks on back doors are common sense.
“It’s pretty sad that in today’s world, we’ve got to go to these measures, but you do,” Shelstad said.
Commission Chairwoman Colleen Faber said that emergency and safety equipment were ranked highly on the recent Optional One Percent Survey, and said that the physical security committee is in line with what the community feels is important.
“I think the community believes that the county should be focused on their safety and security and I think that would be in agreement of this board,” she said.
Protecting the people of Campbell County is the commissioners’ responsibility, said Commissioner Jim Ford.
Correction (4/7/2023): A previous version of this story indicated that physical security analysis was carried out by the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security. The analysis was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.