COLUMBUS — Security could get a little tighter at the Ohio Statehouse, with metal detectors, cameras and stricter control of entrances.
The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board wants to spend close to $2 million to purchase equipment to protect the building’s entrances. The Statehouse currently leaves its doors open during normal business hours, allowing people to freely enter and leave under the watch of the State Highway Patrol.
The Dayton Daily News reports that recommendations call for only four entrances to be open during regular business hours. Each would be staffed with state troopers using hand-held metal detection wands and include security cameras and other equipment.
Actual procedures for who should be screened and when were not specified in the recommendations.
Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Ohio Gov. John Kasich, said an Ohio Homeland Security study that led to the planned security changes wasn’t in reaction to a specific concern or event. Highway Patrol spokeswoman Lt. Anne Ralston said troopers provide 24-hour security and are always looking for ways to improve it.
“We’re constantly reviewing and evaluating the security we provide at Capital Square, whether or not there was some sort of law that says a security assessment is needed,” she said.
The Kasich-proposed security study wasn’t released publicly. Some $1.2 million for increased security was added to the state budget bill now in the hands of legislators.
The Daily News reports that Ohio is among only a few states that allow people access to its Statehouse through more than six entrances and that most states have only two or three entrances for the public.
Sen. Michael Skindell, D-Lakewood, said he thought the planned changes were a reasonable balance of safety and access. He said visiting the Statehouse shouldn’t be intimidating to members of the public. He said the highway patrol troopers help by greeting and giving directions to visitors.
“I like it here,” Skindell said. “Someone can just walk into the building and come knock on my door.”