ARIZONA NEWS

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors beefing up security measures after incident at meeting

Mar 12, 2024, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:25 pm

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is upping security at meetings following a recent incident...

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is upping security at meetings following a recent incident. (Maricopa County Photo)

(Maricopa County Photo)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is strengthening security measures after an incident at a recent meeting.

The county is updating its board meeting rules after a Feb. 28 incident where a group of about 15 attendees made their way into an area in front of the dais and wouldn’t leave, the county said in a press release. A county employee was shoved and fell as a result, according to the county.

The decision is also part of a larger threat problem board members have been subjected to in recent years, the county added.

“Board members and county leadership take the safety of all staff and guests extremely seriously,” Chairman Jack Sellers said in the release. “What happened on Feb. 28 was unacceptable and unfortunately part of a pattern of disruptive and disorderly behavior we’ve seen over the last several months.

“New security measures are needed to ensure meetings are orderly, public comment is protected and the business of the nation’s 4th largest county can be conducted.”

What changes are coming to Maricopa County board meetings?

The changes, which will go into effect starting with Wednesday’s meeting, were crafted following a recent threat assessment conducted by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Phoenix Police Threat Mitigation Unit, Phoenix Fire Department Homeland Defense Bureau and Maricopa County Security Services Division.

Here are the changes:

• People participating in public comment will be directed to one side of the auditorium when their time comes to speak, then escorted by security personnel to the lectern to address the board. After their speaking time is up, they will be escorted back to their seat. Previously, public commenters could approach the lectern from any part of the auditorium with no security escort.
• The first few rows of seating in the Board of Supervisors auditorium will be reserved for county staff and board guests. Most county staff will be asked to watch or participate in meetings remotely.
• Security will place stanchions in front of the public seating area. Access to the lectern will only be available from the corridor on the right side of the auditorium.

“The Board of Supervisors is committed to individual rights of expression and believes strongly in receiving public comment about county business,” Sellers said. “But it can’t and won’t be a free-for-all hijacked by bad actors who think rules don’t apply to them.”

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Maricopa County Board of Supervisors beefing up security measures after incident at meeting