The 9/11 terror attacks forced all public building to get real about security.
"I've always felt safe at city hall," Assistant City Manager Dan Howe said.
Since 9/11, Howe says council meetings have gone without incident.
But from Raleigh to Durham to Fayetteville, council chambers are hot spots for controversy.
"I know that we have a lot of difficult issues that are discussed here at this building," Raleigh resident Paula Spence said. "People come down and you just never know what's on their minds."
Preparing for the unpredictable is exactly what city leaders across the Triangle say they're already doing. Whether it's a visible police presence or undercover officers strategically placed in every meeting, there are security measures in place.
When city council isn't in session, the doors are locked for added safety. But, when they're open, city leaders admit it's difficult to decide if and when troublemakers should stay out.
"It's always hard to know someone who's upset versus someone who's mentally unstable," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said. "Sometimes you have to have the police check on someone just to be sure they're on the right side of that line."
But officials recognize anyone in the crowd is a potential threat. That's partly why they're tight-lipped about the details of their security plans. It's another step that may or may not keep a tragedy from happening here.
Raleigh City Hall has an added security bonus. It's police department is right next door.