Owensboro Municipal Utilities will be making major safety and security upgrades to its customer service center’s lobby on Tamarack Road.

At a cost of $79,986, OMU will be adding ballistic glass and Kevlar-reinforced counter areas sometime this year as a precautionary measure to protect the first-floor customer employees. Their duties include accepting monthly payments and scheduling residential utility services for electricity and water.

Currently, a wooden countertop stands between the customer service employees and the public.

Sonya Dixon, OMU spokeswoman, said it’s the public entry point to the building, making it important to protect.

“We obviously from time to time … there are customers that get upset,” Dixon said. “Certainly, I think it’s important for us to be proactive.”

Dixon said this type of safety measure wasn’t thought about years ago, but the potential for violence within public buildings has become prevalent more recently across the United States.

“It’s certainly top of mind I think for anyone that interacts with the public and has as much traffic as we do,” Dixon said.

Kentucky Mirror & Plate Glass Co. was the lone bidder and will be making the upgrades.

The same company also installed a protective enclosure earlier this year in the first-floor lobby at City Hall. At a cost of $5,000, it was put in place in March to shield and act as a barrier between citizen-service representatives and the public.

Michael Moore, OMU’s director of customer and shared services, said thought was also heavily given to the personal interaction between the customer service employee and the public before making the safety upgrade.

“Sometimes your biggest concerns, when you’re looking at safety and security, you’ll lose customer service,” Moore said.

Moore, however, said customer service employees visited a utility service center in Henderson that already had similar safety measures in place.

“They could still hear and our customer service representatives could still interact with them and have a good transaction area,” Moore said. “… We still think we’re going to be able to have that customer touch that’s not going to feel like you’re in a real secure type of place.”

Don Wilkins, dwilkins@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7299

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