Panel looks at Statehouse security

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State officials and legislators have taken the first steps to increase Statehouse security.

The "capital complex security working group" held its first session Tuesday morning.

The working group is chaired by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and includes lawmakers, representatives from the Department of Buildings and General Services, Sergeant at Arms Francis Brooks and Capitol Police Chief Les Dimick.

The state has hired the national firm of Margolis Healy & Associates, which specializes in campus security, to assess the state's security measures for the complex, which includes the state Supreme Court, the Statehouse and the Governor's Office.

After the meeting, Margolis Healy representatives began interviews, toured the building and began researching the history and uses of the Statehouse, which will be considered in the security firm's recommendations.

Mike Obuchowski, commissioner of Buildings and General Services, said state law prohibits the Statehouse doors from being locked when the Legislature is in session.

Weapons are prohibited in the Statehouse but no metal detectors or screening stations are used. The building is always open to visitors, and staff offer tours year round. That's something legislators said they want to keep.

Last session, the Legislature authorized $250,000 -- including $65,000 for consultant services for Margolis Healy -- and approved money for wiring and updating the intercom and alarm system.

Dimick said he's been pushing for more staff for years. Currently, he has three full-time staff and three more working part-time when the Legislature is in session.

For years, Scott said, "I resisted changes to security because I wanted to keep things transparent and keep the People's House the People's House. We need to be sure we don't lose this in the process. But we need to be sure to keep the people who work here, and visitors, safe."


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