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Our Opinion: Statehouse security additions will give protection, peace of mind

News Tribune Editorial January 8, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. | Updated January 8, 2017 at 4:55 a.m.

Beefed-up security at the Missouri Capitol may be a small inconvenience for people who work there or visit, but should give everyone - from touring school children to lawmakers - protection and peace of mind.

The security enhancements, which were initiated by Gov.-elect Eric Greitens, will reduce the number of entrances by the public from seven to two: the first-floor west entrance and the first-floor south carriage tunnel.

At those two entrances, people will go through walk-through magnetometers and their personal belongings will pass through X-ray conveyors. A third metal detector has been bought, but it's not clear where that will be located.

Twenty-five hand-held metal-detector wands also have been bought, plus equipment for the electronic badge scanners at locked doors.

The goal is to ensure that firearms and other dangerous items don't get into the building.

The added security will cost the state $415,000, which is being taken from a $40 million bond issue for Capitol repairs and renovations authorized in the 2o16 budget, the Associated Press reported.

Security officers will screen visitors to the Capitol, including contract employees, special guests, members of the media and lobbyists.

The screenings allow for some exceptions. State employees who work at the statehouse will be issued electronic key card credentials, and children younger than high school age won't be screened if they don't have backpacks/sachels.

The security boost essentially will bring back the security measures that were added after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Why were they ever removed? Because in 2003, just two years after the attacks, some lawmakers said the security wasn't needed. After all, Capitol Police already had a presence in the building. Also, Republicans were fighting with then-Gov. Bob Holden over funding in a tight budget year.

That made it easier for the state to fall into a dangerous, but typical, line of thinking: "In the two years we've funded additional security, we haven't needed it. So maybe the money could be better used elsewhere ."

The problem is, it takes something bad to happen to realize the need for added security. Without security - in the world we live in today - it's only a matter of time for something bad to happen.

Fortunately, the state isn't waiting any longer to see the need.


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