In a somewhat stunning move made out of the blue on Thursday, Sept. 2, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners came out of a long closed session and voted to approve 11 new Guilford County Security Department positions as well as four new Sheriff’s Department positions.
The county commissioners also didn’t give any explanation after the fact. The move was highly unusual because, when the board adds positions, it almost always does so each year in June when new budget is adopted.
The discussion was held entirely behind closed doors at the end of the board’s September 2 regular meeting. Some commissioners, when asked the reason for the additional security, said they could not discuss it since it was a closed session matter. When the Rhino Times asked Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston why the board added the 11 security guards, Alston said the only thing he could say publicly is that the move was made at the request of Guilford County Manager Mike Halford.
There was also no comment on the additional four positions for the Sheriff’s Department.
Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne said after the meeting that the discussion was held in closed session, as is allowable by state statute, to discuss security matters. The board does have the right to discuss in private sensitive security issues facing the county. Payne said that adding new positions had to be done in public and he pointed out that the board did come out of closed session and vote to approve the positions.
Guilford County security guards do things like keep watch over county property, secure entrances to county buildings and provide protection at Board of Commissioners meetings. In recent months, county commissioner meetings have had much greater security than in the past.
The board did not provide an estimated cost for the 15 positions added Thursday night.