JEFFERSON CITY - A metal detector and three highway patrol officers greeted visitors and workers alike at the Capitol doors on Tuesday, bringing a new visibility to security concerns around the state.
Stationed at every Capitol entrance, patrolmen asked to see employees' badges and searched bags before allowing anyone to enter the building.
Gov. Bob Holden said Tuesday that state buildings across Missouri will have more armed officers, bag checks, metal detectors, and restrictions on vehicles and visitors at loading docks and in mail rooms.
Chief of Capitol Police Lou Tedeschi said all Capitol visitors must now enter through a single, main entrance.
Sen. Harry Wiggins, D-Kansas City, has been a legislator for 27 years and says he has never seen security measures like this before.
Although Wiggins said it was important to keep the building accessible to visitors, he said he understood that the security was a necessity.
"We need to be careful to listen to law enforcement and do what they tell us," Wiggins said.
The new security measures will be felt in state government buildings in St. Louis, Kansas City, Jefferson City, St. Joseph and Springfield.
For now, the cost of the added security is being paid by the individual department supplying the manpower, said Col. Tim Daniel, the state Special Adviser on Homeland Security. For example, the State Highway patrol is footing the bill for their officers who are securing buildings.
To lower costs, the state plans to reduce the number of officers hired to guard entrances by replacing some of the manpower with more high-tech equipment that will be purchased by the state, Daniel said.
Daniel will head a group of state government officials and police officers, called the Missouri Security Panel, to assess Missouri's security and make recommendations on what more can be done and how the improvements should be financed.
Holden said that he will be contacting officials about serving on the panel later this week.
He said the costs for the additional security may be added into the state budget.
Wiley Tracy has given tours in the Capitol for ten years and does not expect the heightened security to affect the numbers of visitors.
"We had schools call this morning asking if they could still come," Tracy said. "We encourage them to come."
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