At the Thursday, Sept. 1 meeting of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, there was a tremendous amount of security that made some in the room wonder if there had been some sort of threat made prior to the meeting.
There were security guards who checked people at the security point at the plaza entrance of the old Guilford County Court House, more on the second floor, and, in the meeting room, seven security officers lining the sides and back.
The meeting was a very short one with a spattering of attendees at which the most controversial question to arise was whether the county should have put a “For Sale” sign on a piece of property that it’s selling.
After the meeting, when Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston was asked whether there had been some sort of threat or perceived danger before the meeting, he said there had not been. He said some security officer scheduled may have accidentally overlapped.
“I’m thinking it was some sort of staffing misunderstanding or confusion,” Alston said of the large number of officers.
A security officer asked after the meeting why there was so much protection around the commissioners and county officials that night, said that it was just that this is a new era.
Guilford County government has beefed up security in a lot of places in recent years – for instance, at Division of Social Services sites.
The county has sometimes brought in a few extra officers for meetings expected to be packed and heated, but the Rhino Times has never seen such a high ratio of officers to attendees.
The commissioners’ meetings rarely get scary. One has to go back to Thursday, Oct.1, 1998, for a real threat: When the late E.H. Hennis – who had a long-running feud with the board – spoke as a speaker from the floor, held up a fake bomb and told the commissioners, “Start checking your automobiles, the exhaust on them. I’ve got a lot of ways to get you and a lot of people backing me up. You may need a highly trained sniffing dog ’cause I can get you. My way of getting you, you won’t be carried off in stretchers. And I’m not making a threat. I’m just telling you facts. Your body parts can be picked up and put in a body bag.”
Hennis was convicted of causing a bomb hoax and banned from meetings of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners for a period of time.