Belfast City Hall has a new panic-button-style security system. And it’s not a red button under the desk like in the bank robbery movies.

City Manager Joe Slocum said he priced out an under-the-desk system several years ago, but found they were prohibitively expensive.

“With the advent of all that wireless technology, it dawned on me that there must be a wireless option out there,” he said.

The result is a matchbox-sized, plastic device with a single button and a wireless connection to the police department. The city bought a number of the portable panic buttons at a total cost of around $750 and gave them to employees working on all floors of the building. The single-function units can be placed on a desk or worn around the neck by a ball chain lanyard.

City hall previously had a hardwired alarm system, when the police department occupied the basement level. But it was removed, Slocum said, when the department moved to the former Fleet Bank building on Church Street in 2000.

The addition of a panic button system was not precipitated by any particular event, he said, but amounted to unfinished business.

“It’s standard operating procedure in government today in America,” he said. “It just is.”

Slocum said he isn’t aware of a time during his three-and-a-half years as Belfast City Manager that an employee at city hall would have needed a panic button, but he said people have been escorted out of the building by police or permitted in the building only with a police officer present. While working at a previous municipal job, he said, he saw worse cases.

“It’s important to appreciate that sometimes people get very upset with regards to things that happen in the public sector, and that can manifest in an aggressive act toward a government employee,” he said.