Capitol safety update planned

Metal detectors and X-rays could cost more than $1 million.
Friday, February 9, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:15 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — Tighter safety measures proposed for Missouri’s Capitol could cost more than $1 million.

Gov. Matt Blunt’s public safety director wants to channel Capitol visitors through a single entrance with metal detectors and X-ray machines, staffed by private contractors. But the plan also calls for a reconfiguration of the Capitol’s entrances and roads.

Figures provided Thursday show the total cost could be around $1.1 million, most of which would come from state funds. But for the security plan to go forward, the expenditures would require legislative budget approval.

Public Safety Director Mark James had said previously that a federal homeland security grant could cover the $200,000 cost of new X-ray machines. He said the state would have to spend about $380,000 to hire private contractors to staff the X-ray machines and metal detectors.

On Thursday, state facilities director Dave Mosby said it would cost an additional $309,000 in state funds to enclose and ventilate an outdoor tunnel at the visitor’s entrance, so people would have a climate-controlled place to wait in line for the metal detectors.

Under the plan, state employees, media, lobbyists and vendors who regularly work in the Capitol would be given electronic identification cards allowing them to enter the Capitol through other doors.

Mosby said it would cost about $50,000 in state funds to install those doors and card scanners at entrances that do not already have them.

The improved safety plan also would reroute traffic on the Capitol’s circle drive, moving the disabled parking and bus drop-off zones from the north side to the south side of the Capitol so they would be closer to the new visitor’s entrance. Mosby said it would cost $20,000 to $30,000 in state funds to design the road changes, which he estimated would cost an additional $150,000 to make.

Metal detectors originally were set up at the Capitol after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They came down on July 1, 2003, after legislators eliminated funding for the private security guards who had been staffing them.

Since then, lawmakers, employees and visitors have been able to enter and exit Missouri’s Capitol through numerous doors without passing through any security. Armed Capitol police, however, have continued to patrol the inside and outside of the building.

Capitol police said at least 23 states now have metal detectors at their capitols.

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