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Statehouse security relaxed to pre 9-11 levels

September 08, 2003
By: Kate Amburgey
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY -

Two years since the 9-11 terrorist attacks, security at the Capitol building seems like it's returned to pre-attack levels.

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

As you pull into the Missouri Capitol Building 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," John Russell, (R-Lebanon) a member of the Missouri Security Panel, said.

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

Since 9-11, thirty arrests have been made for possession of drugs, drug paraphenalia, and small weapons. In August, a man carrying a civil war era sword and methamphetamines was apprehended in the Capitol building. No fire arms or explosives have been detected.

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," Mosely, director of Facilities Management at the Capitol Building, said.

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, said Mosely.

No funds have been allocated for security personnel next year.

As Russell said,"Enraged Missourians are more of a danger to legislators than terrorists."