New Arnold City Hall Sign-In Policy Proposed
Visitors to City Hall must surrender their driver's license and be escorted while in the employee work area.
The Arnold City Council agreed to a new sign-in process, during the July 12 work session at City Hall, to increase municipal employee safety and visitor confidentiality.
- Visitors will sign in at the Clerk’s window by surrendering a driver’s license or state issued identification card and verbally request to visit a specific city employee.
- A Clerk’s employee will call the city employee.
- The employee will retrieve the visitor, escort the person to the destination and remain with the visitor while in City Hall.
- The employee will escort the visitor out of City Hall’s work area.
- The Clerk’s office will return visitors’ ID cards after leaving the secure area.
- Visitors who decline to surrender their ID will have to talk to with the city employee in the main hallway.
- If an employee cannot immediately retrieve the visitor, the visitor must remain in the main hallway.
Police Chief Robert Shockey, who is also the city’s Interim City Administrator, said the Arnold Police Department uses such a visitors policy.
Mayor Ron Counts said, during the work session, city employees must provide past visitors’ information to any councilmen requesting the information.
“The public has the right to know who’s in the building,” Mayor Ron Counts said. “I’m happy to provide that information.”
The entire council will vote on the new policy during the 7 p.m. meeting on July 19 at City Hall.
Counts said he hopes the policy will resolve individuals' privacy rights against the public’s right to know who visits City Hall.
The problem is that the sign-in sheet was never intended to be as a formal public record, Counts said.
City Clerk Diane Waller, who keeps the sign-in log, said, “We used it to remember which people had left the building.”
The prior policy, created in 1986, required visitors to write their names on a sign-in list at the Clerk’s window, Waller said during the meeting.
The clerk’s office also asked visitors provide ID cards prior to entering the city employees’ secure work area.
“But some people refused to give their driver’s license,” Waller said. Those visitors were not allowed into the secure area but the city moved away from the policy.
The problem occurred when other visitors noticed people’s names on the visitor’s log. “People would ask ‘Why is he visiting here?’ ” Waller said.
City Attorney Bob Sweeney said, during the work session, the issue became further complicated when people asked to see the City Hall sign-in log sheet.
“No where on the sign-in sheet does it say that visitors’ names will be provided to the public upon request,” Sweeney said about visitors’ privacy rights.
The city has provided redacted sign-in logs in response to the Missouri Secretary of State’s Office and to the American Civil Liberties Union, Sweeney said.
When asked if the City of Arnold violated a law by refusing to provide past sign-in logs, Sweeney said no judge decided whether Arnold City Hall needed to provide the sign-in log to the public.
Also the Missouri Attorney General expressed no opinion the issue, Sweeney said, “An attorney general’s opinion would have a number, a signed by the attorney general and it would address that issue.
“No one has requested an attorney general’s opinion on Arnold’s sign-in logs and nor has the attorney general sued us on this issue, to my knowledge,” Sweeney said to the councilmen.
Ward 2 Councilman Bill Moritz said the city's new policy, that requires visitors to surrender their driver's license, is the same visitor policy used by the Federal Reserve Bank.
Moritz said he and few City of Arnold employees planned a tour of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City in 2010. Moritz said he was denied entry to the building because he left his wallet and driver's license in his hotel room.
Ward 4 Councilman Ken Moss said he surrendered his ID cards when he visited college friends at their dorms.
"Let's just fix it, let's get a policy that we agree on and move forward," Moss said.