Park City planning panel receives closed-door security briefing
The Park City Planning Commission recently received a closed-door security briefing, a rare step that was designed to provide broad information about safety rather than address a specific threat against a City Hall panel that regularly addresses tension-filled issues.
Neither the Planning Commission nor the security team that delivered the briefing provided details of the discussion in interviews afterward. It was highly unusual nonetheless for the Planning Commission to close a meeting to address any sort of topic.
Public bodies like the Planning Commission and the Park City Council are allowed to meet privately to address certain issues like security, litigation, personnel and property deals. While the City Council regularly meets in closed sessions, the Planning Commission hardly ever does.
Andrew Leatham, who is a Police Department captain, police Sgt. Corey Allinson and Mike McComb, who is City Hall’s emergency program manager, delivered the briefing. Leatham said afterward there are no known threats to the Planning Commission.
John Phillips, the chair of the Planning Commission, in an interview described the briefing, which lasted up to 25 minutes, in broad terms but declined to discuss the specifics. He said the Police Department provided an overview of nationwide numbers regarding active-shooter situations. Phillips said the security team discussed ways to respond to a shooter.
He declined to comment about whether the briefing also covered security measures in the City Council chambers itself, such as locking mechanisms and surveillance systems. He said, though, the protection plans are “straightforward and simple.”
“The fact of knowing that the Police Department has a very robust emergency preparedness plan,” Phillips said about the information provided in the briefing. “They’ve thought through every scenario.”
Leatham categorized the discussion with the Planning Commission as a “standard security briefing.” Leatham in an interview did not provide information about the briefing beyond the description provided by Phillips.
The briefing followed shortly after the Planning Commission, during an open session, expressed a desire to learn additional information about security. City Hall staffers at that meeting indicated a new security measure was in place regarding locked doors on the downstairs level of the Marsac Building. The staffers at that meeting, though, appeared hesitant to discuss the topic of security with the public in the room. The closed-door briefing was designed to be a more detailed follow-up to the earlier meeting.
The Planning Commission ranks second in influence of City Hall’s panels, trailing only the City Council. The Planning Commission holds broad powers in growth and development matters, and the panel holds the authority to make decisions on some of the most polarizing development proposals.
Planning Commission meetings sometimes become heated as the panelists, developers and the public confront each other on a large proposal with citywide ramifications or a smaller one that splits a neighborhood. A police officer is sometimes assigned to a Planning Commission meeting, providing a visible law enforcement presence during what are expected to be tension-filled discussions.
Phillips has said he has never considered himself threatened at a Planning Commission meeting.
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