Philly City Council tightens security to stop protests

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 Two uniformed sheriff's officers have joined the sergeants-at-arms, police Civil Affairs officers and private security who man the halls outside council chambers and operate the metal detectors during City Council meetings (Tom MacDonald/for NewsWorks)

Two uniformed sheriff's officers have joined the sergeants-at-arms, police Civil Affairs officers and private security who man the halls outside council chambers and operate the metal detectors during City Council meetings (Tom MacDonald/for NewsWorks)

Philadelphia City Council is used to verbal fights more than literal ones, but still council’s president is beefing up security. 

Two uniformed sheriff’s officers have joined the sergeants-at-arms, police Civil Affairs officers and private security who man the halls outside council chambers and operate the metal detectors.

Council President Darrell Clarke says the way protesters disrupted the mayor’s budget address in March shows existing security isn’t enough.

“There’s certain aspects with respect to the limits of what our sergeants at arms can do relating to crowd control, so we wanted to make sure there were uniformed officers if there was action above and beyond what is traditionally the actions of the sergeant at arms in the city of Philadelphia,” Clarke said.

Sheriff’s deputies already patrol the courtrooms in City Hall, but access is controlled by a private security firm.

Councilman Jim Kenney says the sergeants at arms really don’t provide any measure of security.

“It’s a bunch of assistants who get rooms ready for hearings who help stock offices with supplies take of mail,” Kenney said. “It’s more of an administrative position than historically what sergeant at arms means.”

Clarke says the added sheriff’s are not costing additional money, they are being taken off other details for a few hours for council duty.

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