Missouri Capitol security discussed after Colorado shooting

Tuesday, July 17, 2007 | 2:00 p.m. CDT; updated 10:28 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — It appeared to be business as usual at the Missouri Capitol today, the day after a shooting at the Capitol in Colorado.

The Capitol Police said they were on heightened alert as a result of that shooting. But there was no outward sign of changes in Jefferson City — no metal detectors, searches or locked doors.

In Colorado, a man appeared outside the governor’s office Monday and refused to drop a handgun. He was then shot and killed by a patrolman on the governor’s security detail.

Missouri Capitol Police Chief Todd Hurt said officers are being more vigilant. He also planned to meet with state Public Safety Director Mark James on Wednesday to review the Colorado shooting and see if changes are needed in Missouri.

“We aren’t going to have a knee-jerk reaction, but we are going to react, have some meetings and discussions,” Hurt said today. “It’s important for us to continually plan and make our plan based on what other states have experienced.”

The minimal security level at the Capitol buildings in Missouri and Colorado is similar.

In Colorado, metal detectors were installed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but were removed the following July.

Missouri also installed metal detectors, but they were taken down in 2003 during a budget crunch. Lawmakers eliminated funding to pay for them and the private contractors to staff them.

Today, lawmakers, employees and visitors enter and exit Missouri’s Capitol through numerous doors without passing through any security measures. But armed Capitol police patrol the inside and outside of the building.

This year, James and Hurt proposed beefing up security at the Capitol, bringing visitors through one entrance and screening them with metal detectors and X-ray machines, along with redirecting traffic around the building. But of a roughly $1 million request, budget writers granted them just $200,000.

So the plan instead is to hire a few more police officers to walk the halls and get to know the people they’re supposed to protect.

The shooting in Colorado isn’t causing Capitol Police to redirect that money to using metal detectors on a part-time basis.

“Metal detectors are expensive. Putting them up and manning them is not an easy undertaking,” Hurt said. “We’re going to do the best we can with the resources we’ve been given.”

Hurt said he planned to push the broader security plan again next year, and expected to make more progress.

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