Security tightens at the Statehouse

One of the new x-ray machines awaits its first customers.
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Indianapolis - After more than a century of being completely open to the public, today there are new security measures in place at the Indiana Statehouse.

Visitors and their belongings are now screened by metal detectors and only two of a dozen entrances are open to the public. The changes were adopted last fall by the  Indiana Counter-Terrorism and Security Council.

Statehouse visitor Michelle Peck passed through a metal detector and had her bag screened Monday.

"It's kind of what I'm used to since we usually have this in the airports and other areas and it kind of makes me feel a little more secure," she said.

Rick Sherwood, who was also visiting the capitol, said, "I think it should have been done sooner but at the same time, at least it's done now."

Guns, knives and other weapons are prohibited in the building. Only judges, legislators and law enforcement officers are allowed to be armed.

"It's unfortunate that the times wind up changing and we have to just go along with those times and if we don't we could wind up in some problems we don't want to be in," said John White, Indiana Department of Administration.

Visitors can enter through the upper doors on the Capitol Street side of the building or the lower entrance on Senate Avenue, which is also wheelchair accessible. All the other doors to the capitol remain locked. State employees with ID cards still have access. The officially designated entrances are open from 7a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Once inside, everyone will pass through new metal detectors. All bags and packages will be x-rayed at these entrances.  A third entrance will service larger crowds as needed.

The measures were put in place in an effort to protect elected officials and government workers.

State employee Britta Peter says the measures don't make her feel safer. "I mean, if somebody really wants to do something they figure it out," she said. But Genevieve Boarman, who works at the Indiana Court of Appeals, said, "I think any security is good because it's for all of our safety and the safer you can make us, the better."

While state officials admit even the best security can be breached, a plan in place is far better than nothing at all.

The current State Capitol building was completed in 1888.

Get info on the new security measures

This story compiled from reports by Richard Essex and Jeremy Brilliant.