Capitol security less extreme

Thursday, September 11, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:01 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Two years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, security at the Capitol building seems like it has returned to pre-attack levels.

A Capitol police officer waves a car on and returns to his crossword puzzle.

As drivers pull into the Capitol parking garage, a sign instructs, “Leave keys in car. Don’t lock doors.”

“We feel pretty comfortable here. I don’t think too many terrorists want to attack the Missouri state building,” Sen. John Russell, R-Lebanon, said. He is a member of the Missouri Security Panel.

Thrity arrests made

Until July 1, guards were stationed at checkpoints within the Capitol building, health lab and the Harry S. Truman building. Guards forced state employees to show an ID upon entrance and visitors were subjected to metal detectors and baggage searches. A bomb dog was used to sniff out suspicious packages.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, 30 arrests have been made for possession of drugs, drug paraphernalia and small weapons at the Capitol. In August, security agents apprehended a man carrying a Civil War-era sword and methamphetamines in the Capitol. No firearms or explosives have been detected.

Security agencies feel economic squeeze

Under Missouri’s new budgetary constraints, the security agencies have felt the squeeze of the tightening economic belt.

“We’ve had to adjust the security level according to the budget,” said Dave Mosely, director of facilities management at the Capitol.

Although the guards are gone, someone is always watching.

Cameras and a proximity reader have been installed to give Capitol Police a better view of who’s coming and going, Mosely said.

No funds have been allocated for security personnel next year.

“Enraged Missourians are more of a danger to legislators than terrorists,” Russell said.

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