by Alan McArthur
The South Platte Ambulance Board hopes its meetings will be a safer place after it begins having an off-duty sheriff's deputy at each meeting, costing at least $600 a year.
The board approved a motion on Wednesday night to hire the off duty officer at a price of $25 an hour with a minimum of $50 per meeting. The board also discussed possibly putting up a sign saying guns are not allowed.
“Several board members contacted me with concerns about security,” said Bobby Kincaid, board president. “I talked with Richard Carrizzo, fire chief at South Platte Fire Disrict, about having a sign, but he preferred to not have one.” The board has its meetings at a South Platte Fire District building.
“I'm curious why we couldn't put up a sign?” asked Fred Sanchez, board member.
Kincaid said he was told they could not put up a sign because there are police officers always coming into the building and Carrizzo did not want any confusion.
“Is this not a public building?” asked Sanchez. “Hospitals have signs and armed security. I don't understand why we can't have a sign.”
Another member asked if there was a specific reason the board needed security.
“What is the concern? Have there been threats against the board?” asked Scott Ritchey, board member.
“Ever since what happened in Kirkwood people have been focusing on security,” said Kincaid, referring to a recent shooting at a city meeting at Kirkwood on the other side of the state that resulted in multiple deaths.
“Now Gladstone has panic buttons under the desk and bullet proof glass,” said Marte Zirschky, board secretary.
The board president said they could hire an off-duty sheriff's deputy to be present at the meetings for $25 an hour with a minimum of $50 per meeting and would total at least $600 a year.
“Fifty dollars is not a lot of money,” said Ron Wheeler, board member.
“Two years ago now we had a meeting where people got emotional,” said Sanchez. “It got a little testy in here. I'm not suggesting it got to the point where it got dangerous, but in the school district we've had the sheriff's deputies at meetings. I feel $50 is a good investment when thinking of the welfare and safety of this board and the audience.”
Another member suggested only having the deputy present at possibly controversial meetings.
“We could (have the deputy) at those meetings we know may have emotional people show up,” said Richard Cull, board member.
After the discussion, Wheeler made a motion to have the off duty officer present at the meetings and Sanchez seconded the motion.
The only member to not vote in favor was Cull, and he abstained.
Phone calls from The Landmark seeking comment from Cull were not returned.
The board also heard a report from Jason White, MAST director of compliance/government regulations, concerning response times in the district.
In the district MAST was on time for 83.33 percent of priority 1 calls, with 20 late calls out of 102 over the last three months.
Of priority 2 calls, MAST was on time for 89.17 percent and had 13 late calls out of 120.
On priority 3 calls MAST showed up on time for 100 percent of the calls with 19 calls in the district.