Concerns About Security at the W.Va. Capitol

By: Kallie Cart Email
By: Kallie Cart Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The shooting at a political event in Arizona is raising questions here at home. Once again, lawmakers are talking about increasing security at West Virginia's state Capitol.

It was a hot topic following Sept. 11, 2001, and some security changes were made, but the main building is still easy to access.

Back then, some lawmakers said the Capitol belongs to the people and should be open to the public. But now, some lawmakers say that needs to be balanced with safety.

All of the buildings in the Capitol complex have some type of security screenings, but the main building housing senators, delegates and the governor is open to anyone.

"It's been a discussion going on for several years," Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says. "Obviously this is the people's building, and some people feel it is not necessary, however, in light of what happened in Arizona, which is a tragic thing. We need to go back and revisit our policies."

One of the main concerns is the number of entrances at the Capitol; there are 11 total. The entrances are on every side of the building, and some are even hidden away but they're all open without any for of checkpoint or security screening. Once you are inside, you're free to roam the building.

"The building does have so many entrances and probably the entrances would have to be limited to a few," Tomblin says. "We do need some kind of metal detectors or something that would at least alert Capitol Police."

Some security upgrades have been made. The doors lock after hours, cameras are monitored continuously, gates have been installed around the perimeter of the complex and Capitol Police are on patrol.

"We need to make sure when visitors come to our state Capitol, they can feel like they're safe when they walk through the door," Tomblin says.

He says his administration will likely take up the issue in the coming weeks.

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