Almost two years after they were brought in to check everyone attending a City Commission meeting, the days of metal detectors at Deltona City Hall may be numbered.
Since July 2019, everyone — including elected officials — has been required to pass through the portals before entering the commission’s chambers, under the watchful eyes of Volusia County sheriff’s deputies. Deputies may also use electromagnetic wands to scan visitors.
Now, at least one commissioner is calling for an end to the airport-style security measures.
“I think it’s time for the metal detectors to go,” Commissioner David Sosa said May 17. “I’d like to have the metal detectors discussed on the next agenda.”
The commission agreed to talk about the future of the metal detectors at its next regular meeting, Monday, June 7.
Sosa also said the metal detectors may deter people who want to come to a City Commission meeting.
When passing through the metal detector first became a meeting-entry protocol, Mayor Heidi Herzberg said the extra security was necessary because of reports “about weapons in the audience.”
At the May 17 meeting, she added, “There’s a reason those were put there.”
The Beacon asked the Sheriff’s Office if any weapons or any other contraband have ever been found on anyone coming to City Hall to attend a meeting, but the answer has not yet come.
“Is it a preventative, or is it not a preventative?” Herzberg said.
While metal detectors are placed in the county’s courthouses, Deltona is the only municipal government that uses them for screening visitors entering City Commission meetings.
One member of the public who commented on the metal detectors after Sosa brought up the topic found herself in hot water with the Sheriff’s Office. Tammy Stuck said that after her leg brace tripped an alarm on the metal detector in April, the deputy on duty had improperly touched her in a way that traumatized her.
Two days after the meeting at which Stuck spoke, the Sheriff’s Office charged her with making a false official statement. The Sheriff’s Office also shared a video compilation that includes footage of the encounter between Stuck and the deputy. It shows the deputy bending down to use a metal-detecting wand to confirm the location of the metal on Stuck’s leg, then touching her leg in the area of her knee, through her slacks, apparently to confirm the presence of a brace.
Sheriff Mike Chitwood called the Stucks’ complaint about the incident “a blatant lie and a disgusting attempt to ruin a deputy’s career.” He also chided members of the Deltona City Commission for appearing to sympathize with the Stucks when they spoke about the metal-detector incident at the May 17 meeting.
“I hope this episode will serve as a wake-up call to those on the Deltona City Commission who were so willing to condemn a deputy’s actions without the facts,” Sheriff Mike Chitwood said in a statement about the incident.
It will be up to the State Attorney’s Office to determine whether to pursue the charge against Stuck.