Kent County Recreation Center beefs up security

DOVER — Add the Kent County Recreation Center to public places requiring security screening for entry.

Following a recent assault that staff wasn’t trained or equipped to properly respond to, Levy Court announced Wednesday that “advanced security screening” will be required to go inside the facility at 1683 New Burton Road.

While Department of Community Services Director Jeremy Sheppard said a mostly safe environment previously existed at the Center, which also includes the Greater Dover Boys and Girls Club, the serious nature of the isolated attack was too much to shrug off.

Thus, an armed guard will be present during all evening and weekend open sessions, along with a metal detector/wand and X-ray machine for bags and backpacks. The county made the announcement Thursday online and on its Facebook page, and the new security will begin Monday.

No weapons or dangerous instruments will be allowed into the facility, along with a ban on illegal drugs.

“Kent County asks that patrons leave any contraband at home before coming to the Recreation Center,” the announcement read.

According to Mr. Sheppard, the assault resulted from a confrontation that began outside the facility and continued once entrance was made into the Rec Center. There had also been an instance where staff had to address an issue of drug use nearby the building outside, Mr. Sheppard said.

The enhanced security measures will enhance to safety of the sometimes 150 to 200 visitors to the Rec Center, along with parents and children being picked up at the Boys and Girls Club. Mr. Sheppard said the safety of staff was also paramount in the decision.

“It is important for people to understand that this is to be a place that’s safe and fun and you don’t want to bring in anything else but that attitude,” Mr. Sheppard said.

“Hopefully it will deter negative intents when people come into this building.”

For the next couple months, officials will evaluate the best practices for making the new system work best.

The security will be placed at the main entrance before access is available to inside the Rec Center and Boys and Girls Club.

“I don’t feel like we had any other choice in the matter,” Mr. Sheppard said. “In my opinion, when (trouble) develops from on-court incidents while folks are maybe trying to live their past glories I think eventually adults will be adults and the situation will be properly and safely resolved.

“It’s not as dangerous as something that happens out in the streets and enters the building as a beef that’s still ongoing.”

 

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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