- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Security in and around Virginia's Capitol in Richmond will be bolstered in January under new regulations endorsed by the state's Joint Rules Committee.
Capitol Police will hire 18 new officers and two more bomb-sniffing dogs. The Capitol Police force currently has 103 officers and two bomb-sniffing canines.
In addition to the additional personnel, police also will install metal detectors at all entrances at the Capitol and put up crash bars on the north, east and south doors in the building. The General Assembly building, which is across the street from the Capitol, will get metal detectors, too.
Police officials said yesterday they had been working on the security measures well before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. They said they don't foresee a terrorist threat striking the state Capitol building, but want to make it as safe as possible for those who work or visit it.
"These measures are things that reflect modern society," said Capt. Michael Jones, deputy chief of the Capitol Police. "It's nothing more than what you see in local courthouses and other government buildings in the country."
The Rules Committee authorized $500,000 to pay for the new security measures, which will be in place when the General Assembly begins its 60-day legislative session Jan. 9.
State legislators yesterday had mixed emotions about the changes. Some said they will welcome the increased security, particularly when they work late at night.
"We did need to do more in terms of security," said state Delegate Jeannemarie A. Devolites, Fairfax Republican. "We need the security not so much for terrorist threats or attacks, but for those people who have the 'me, too,' the copycat attitude."
Others like state Sen. Linda T. "Toddy" Puller, Alexandria Democrat, said the measures could create crowding problems during the legislative session.
"I'm just curious about how this is going to work while we're in session," Mrs. Puller said. "It's going to create difficulties, particularly for those who come there and aren't expecting to go through such security. One of the problems we're now facing is balancing security with letting people in to see their government at work. It's a shame."
But Capt. Jones said the new measures will not prevent ordinary people from visiting the building. "We're very cognizant that this is the people's Capitol. We're working very hard to make sure that the government is still accessible."
Police will also issue identification cards to lobbyists and members of the news media who need daily access to both buildings during the session.
Delegate Leo C. Wardrup Jr., a Virginia Beach Republican who voted against the measures, said he believes the committee is overreacting and the extra security will hurt public access to the assembly.
"We have to evaluate the threat first," Mr. Wardrup said last night. "What is the threat to the General Assembly members and to their staff? I don't see one, frankly."


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