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Our View: Enhanced security sadly a necessary, and costly, ‘sign of the times’

When Carroll County government announced Aug. 22 that security at the county office building in Westminster would be enhanced through equipment upgrades and by using Carroll County Sheriff’s Office deputies in overtime capacity, some, particularly on social media, scoffed, wondering why this expense was needed.

Those wondering got their answer about why increased security is necessary at government buildings on Friday, when a man repeatedly ran his pickup truck into City Hall in Taneytown after having his water service cut off, according to city officials. This wasn’t civil disobedience. Mayor Bradley Wantz issued a statement the next day saying, “the actions of this person amount to nothing less than a terroristic attack on the city.” One employee was in the office at the time and was unhurt, but, as Wantz pointed out, if this incident had occurred during regular office hours, the safety, even the lives, of numerous city staffers and visitors would’ve been at significant risk.

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Rodney Wayne Davis, 55, of Taneytown, was arrested after Taneytown police arrived at the municipal city office and found Davis’ blue Dodge Dakota pickup “halfway into the city office" and Davis still in the driver’s seat, according to charging documents. He is charged with one count of second-degree burglary, a felony, and one count each of second-degree assault, malicious destruction scheme of $1,000 in value or more, malicious destruction of property of $1,000 in value or more, and reckless endangerment, which are misdemeanors, according to electronic court records.

As it happens, Taneytown officials already had been discussing improved security for city employees after incidents like the May shooting rampage at a municipal building in Virginia Beach that left 12 people dead, Wantz said.

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“You are going to see substantial improvements to our security, to City Hall,” Wantz told us. “Not necessarily as barriers for residents to interact, but ensuring the safety of the city employees.”

And that’s pretty much the same message the county commissioners communicated when speaking about the county office building. The Board of Commissioners approved transferring $96,100 from the Department of Public Works and from reserve funds to cover deputy overtime pay, and Public Works will devote approximately $23,200 of its budget to physical building improvements. “It’s not about protecting us, it’s about protecting the folks that work here,” Commissioner President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said.

The changes came on the advice of a security team formed to assess the security of the county office building due to “recent news events” across the country and assisted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, said it was “sad,” but necessary that the county provide such security, that it is a “sign of the times.”

Indeed it is both sad and a sign of the times. The Taneytown incident, too. We live in an era when kids can’t feel safe at schools. When patrons can’t feel safe at a movie or a concert or a nightclub. When workers can’t feel safe at their offices, whether governmental or in the private sector, like at a newspaper, for example.

It’s not possible to make everyone, everywhere, 100 percent safe. But, as long as more and more people hold less and less regard for human life, all we can do is take whatever preventative measures are possible, recognizing that those measures — whether school resource officers or sheriff’s deputies working overtime or barriers protecting City Hall — do cost money.

We only hope that those and other measures serve as a deterrent to any future “terroristic" attacks. And we hope the court system can also serve as a deterrent, although this doesn’t seem to bode well in terms of deterrence: After allegedly committing what could easily have been an immense tragedy, the man accused of driving his truck into Taneytown City Hall was out on bail the next day after posting $250.

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