Security breach in Parish buildingJan 30th, 2012 | By William Dilella | Category: News, Top Story
Discovery of tape recorder prompts Council action
Members of the St. Bernard Parish Council have released details on a recent security breach at their main office, in the Government Building in Chalmette.
As the newly elected Council members were still preparing to take the oath of office several weeks ago, a meeting between members of the Council and administrative representative William McCartney was scheduled.
That meeting was convened on the first floor of the Government Building on W. Judge Perez. After nearly two hours of discussions, District D Councilman Casey Hunnicutt noticed a tape recorder had been concealed under the table and running the entire time.
“”It happened [unfortunately], but we’re increasing security,” Hunnicutt said.
The first floor meeting room in the W. Judge Perez site is open to other sections of parish government, including the Fire Department staff—who met in the same room before the Council’s meeting—and the room is really accessible to anyone walking near the area of the Council Offices.
Though Councilman Hunnicutt said that the subject of the meeting was very informal, and no sensitive Government information had been exchanged, his concern is the breach itself, not the information collected.
“We’re getting ready to start taking more measures, such as cameras, because it’s not only the recording, but there are documents back there which are one of a kind,” Hunnicutt said.
District A Councilman Ray Lauga, who had not attended the meeting, did comment on the incident as an unfortunate start for the freshmen members of the dais.
“It’s upsetting that these guys just started and they’re getting recorded,” Lauga said.
The St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office was made aware of the situation, but, as no criminal activity was apparent in the incident, the matter remains an internal investigation for the Parish.
Parish President Dave Peralta has previously acknowledged internal security issues as a major focus for his first 100-days of office. Council members said they plan to work with the administration to ensure Government is protected from further breaches.
“We have conducted appropriate security site surveys and made changes to ensure compliance with rules and regulations, as well as taking action to address criminal activity at all government sites,” said the Parish President.
After the initial report ran, Councilman-at-Large East Guy McInnis responded, citing the matter as not only criminal, but possibly in the realm of federal prosecution.
“This matter is most certainly a criminal matter,” McInnis said. “To suggest that it is not a criminal matter suggests that one of the attendees placed the recorder in the conference room. The Sheriff’s Office has the evidence and it is my belief that this is an ongoing investigation. I do not believe that the parish is investigating this incident. It is my understanding that the person or persons who placed that recorder in the conference room violated federal law and is subject to prosecution.”