Bill to beef up Capitol security goes to Legislature
- Blog Post by: Jim Ragsdale
- January 7, 2013 - 3:45 PM
Security at the Minnesota State Capitol and surrounding state buildings would be beefed up under a plan to be submitted to the Minnesota Legislature by an advisory committee of state leaders.
The Advisory Committee on Capitol Area Security, chaired by Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon, gave final approval to a report and proposed legislation Monday, the day before the 2013 session of the Legislature convenes.
A key recommendation is that the number of state troopers assigned to the Capitol Complex Area be increased from 2 to 12 and that at least one trooper be assigned to the area at all times. In addition, the number of Capitol Security guards would be increased from 40 to 67 under the committee's recommendation.
That recommendation would have to be squared with the realities of the state budget. State officials expect to have a hard time balancing the new budget even without new spending.
The panel, which included representatives from the Legislature and the Supreme Court, did not recommend weapons-screening technology at entrances to the buildings. Nor did it recommend any changes in the policy of allowing those with permits to carry loaded weapons to do so at the Capitol, as long as they have notified security officials.
Prettner Solon said the group Advisory Committee will continue to meet regularly to review any potential threats, and could increase security if necessary.
"We want to be able to do step-up security as necessary," she said, adding that the Capitol could put up weapons-screening devices temporarily "if we feel there is an imminent threat."
The committee is also trying to ensure that as the renovation of the state Capitol procedes, there is the necessary power and infrastructure to accommodate weapons-screening devices at the doors, she said.
Concern for openness at the "people's house" has long dissuaded legislators from considering weapons-screening. Currently, there are 700 electronic access doors thoroughout the complex, which includes the Capitol, 16 other buildings and 32 parking facilities in downtown St. Paul.
"The Capitol Complex Area has historically enjoyed a relatively low crime environment, considering the relatively high crime rates of the neighborhoods around it," the Committee's report states. "This is attributed in part to the uniformed presence of Capitol Security personnel as well as the awareness and interest of Capitol Complex Area employees."
Other recommendations of the committee are to transfer authority over capitol security to the Commissioner of Public Safety and to create a position of emergency manager for the complex.
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