Security efforts at the Louisiana Capitol in Baton Rouge are being tightened. Public access to the building has been restricted to fewer entrances, X-ray machines scan bags for visitors, and more people are working at security stations. The House speaker says he and the Senate president decided to beef up security because they felt previous security measures had been “extraordinarily lax.” The public now can only walk into the building from the main entrance and two side entrances. Other side doors and entrances at the back of the building are restricted to those who work in the building. Anyone without a security badge for the building also must walk through a metal detector and have their purses, briefcases, and bags run through an X-ray scanner.
State Senate and House Committees met with the Texas Department of Public Safety Monday to discuss security issues at the state Capitol. Concerns were raised in January after police say a 24-year-old walked into a state senator’s office with a loaded gun. He was escorted from the building, but later fired several shots outside. No one was hurt in that incident, but some lawmakers say with all the visitors, especially school children, something more should be done. “You know, we have 300 babies in here, visiting the Capitol. We need to make it secure for them, let their families know we are very conscientious about providing a safe place to visit,” a state senator from Houston said. The state senator thinks the Capitol needs better surveillance cameras, more patrols and metal detectors, but not everyone agrees. Some say the Capitol should remain easily accessible as the people’s house. The state senator said he’ll go along with whatever the DPS recommends.
A suspect’s drug trial at the federal courthouse in downtown Des Moines has prompted officials to tighten security at the building. The suspect, 33, is charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine. He was arrested during cocaine raids in August 2008, along with 15 others. A supervisory deputy U.S. marshal said he could not discuss why the security was increased at the courthouse but acknowledged it was connected to the suspect’s trial, which began Monday. The extra security was not in response to a particular incident or threat, he said. Several Homeland Security vehicles marked with “police” and “Federal Protective Service,” encircled the building on Monday. Federal security officers in blue dress coats conducted regular trips around the block, as they have since the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The federal officers had company on Monday, however. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were on duty in black uniforms.