Prairie Village council wrestles with bill that would require metal detectors at city hall, pool

Prairie Village Police Chief Wes Jordan discussing HB 2052 with the City Council Monday.

New legal action surrounding Prairie Village’s open carry ban isn’t the only gun-related issue the Prairie Village city council needs to mull over.

Though it applied for a guaranteed six month exemption from Kansas HB 2052, the city will have to develop a plan to respond to the new law by Jan. 1, 2014. The bill, passed by the conservative legislature this session and signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback, mandates that any city that bans concealed weapons in city buildings provide “adequate security measures” to ensure that no weapons can be brought into the building.

The rationale behind the bill is that concealed carry permit holders who feel they need a firearm for protection should have an assurance that no one else in a municipal building is carrying a weapon that could pose a threat to them if they are banned from bringing their own concealed weapon inside.

The bill would apply to five Prairie Village facilities: the municipal swimming pool, city hall, the police station, the public works building and the community center. The “adequate security measures” laid out in sparse detail in the language of the bill could include metal detectors — and the very expensive security personnel to operate them.

As many Prairie Village officials noted in the course of a discussion Monday, the real intent of the bill appears to be to rid the state of restrictions on concealed carry.

“[The law] is poorly written, and it’s written in a way to make it as difficult as possible,” said city attorney Katie Logan.

Police Chief Wes Jordan prompted conversation by asking the council to start thinking about the direction they wanted to take. Should the city attempt to keep its concealed carry ban on the books and move forward with trying to install security measures, it would need to develop a plan to secure each of the five facilities. This could prove especially difficult at the city hall/police station complex, which has six entrances.

“These buildings weren’t built primarily for security, they were built for openness,” said Jordan. “When people come to city hall, it’s supposed to be open and inviting.”

The city may, however, have one relatively unorthodox option at its disposal. The bill allows for cities that submit detailed security plans for their municipal buildings to the attorney general to seek a further exemption of four years from the bill.

“We could develop these plans, tell the state this is what we’re planning on doing, and then hope that four year from now the goofballs who passed this thing are out of office and we get a better law,” said councilor David Belz.

The council will further discuss its approach to the issue at future meetings.