City Hall: Is It Safe?

Your tax dollars paid millions for a great new security system at Philadelphia's City Hall.

The new system has been in place for months, but some have questions about whether it's doing the job.

The NBC 10 Investigators went undercover with a hidden camera to prove a point.

Some employees said the new security made them feel safer. Then they found out the public does not go through the same clearance they do.

"It works here. I just show them my badge and I swipe it and get in," one employee told NBC 10.

Visitors must stop at a security desk. They go to another desk and someone asks them their names. Visitors are not required to check in. Security is not required to check for weapons.

"There should be more done. Anybody could go there and give a fake name and a room that they're going to," an employee told NBC 10.

That's exactly what happened months ago.

The NBC 10 Investigators sent a woman through City Hall security without identification. All she gave was her name. Moments later, she was free to roam the halls.

City officials said over the past eight months, they've been looking to improve the system, but Tuesday afternoon NBC 10 sent a producer through security again.

Still, there were no metal detectors and no requirement for identification.

NBC 10's hidden camera roamed all over City Hall, even into some offices.

"Why is that worth an expenditure of over $4 million? What do you get for that?" City Controller Alan Butkovitz said.

Butkovitz said paying guards to only ask a person for their name is a waste of taxpayer's money.

"What difference does it matter who you are? The point is there are certain things you're not suppose to do and things not to bring in," Butkovitz said.

Joan Schlotterbeck, the commissioner of public property, is responsible for security operations.

"How we're operating the system right now is really not security at all, because as you said, someone could come in and say they're Daffy Duck, and we just let them through the door." Schlotterbeck said.

Schlotterbeck said meeting President Lyndon Baines Johnson at the White House as a young girl inspired her to pursue public service. She said no matter what, she tried to put the public's needs first.

"However we secure it, we have to balance it with the public's need to get in here. It's primarily a courthouse. It has the mayor's office here. It has his council offices in here," Schlotterbeck said.

Of the nation's 10 largest cities, four don't have metal detectors at City Hall.

Critics told NBC 10 that's risky business.

"The system should be designed to stop dangerous incidents from occurring," Butkovitz said.

Schlotterbeck said there are plans to install metal detectors at the doors.

"We've put them into writing, and we have them for the mayor, hopefully to have them approved, and start the operations as soon as possible," Schlotterbeck said.

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