Plans to Protect Capitol from Terrorist Attack
Starting early next year, visitors to the state Capitol will see some cosmetic changes to the property surrounding the building. As Mike Montgomery reports, construction is set to begin on a perimeter security system designed to protect the Capitol
Tuesday, October 5, 2004
SOUND : metal detector beeping,etc. At least a million and a half people enter the Capitol building each year. All state employees, tourists, and other visitors must pass thru a metal detector and empty their pockets before entering. SOUND : metal detector, beeping, etc. The California Highway Patrol is charged with protecting the building, including the offices of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. Recently retired C-H-P Commissioner Spike Helmick says he worried about building security for the entire 15 years of his tenure. CUT: SpikeCorpsofEng19 :19 We’ve had several times the Army Corps of Engineers look at the way the building is constructed. Clearly the building is a beautiful old building, but it’s got some major flaws that would subject us to it. You know, you try balance between keeping an open building for the people’s business and making it an armed fortress. Concerns were heightened when the federal building in Oklahoma City was blown up in 1995. In January 2001 a mentally ill truck driver crashed his big rig into the south steps of the Capitol causing millions of dollars in fire damage – killing himself in the process. And then came 9-eleven. Kirk Tripe, an ex-Air Force security expert owns Sacramento-based Belier (be LEER) Security Group. He says certain considerations go into protecting a building like the Capitol. CUT: Tripe15 :15 If you’re a security person, what you want, all things being equal, is a fortress. However that’s not what you’re gonna have here. So what you try to do is you try to maintain a perimeter as far away from the assets that you’re trying to protect. Since 9-eleven a network of remote controlled cameras has been installed inside and outside the building and large concrete planters placed near strategic entrances, but security officials have said that’s not enough. There were suggestions that a stone wall be built around the Capitol, but local Sacramento officials complained, saying it would limit public access to the “people’s house.” Instead a system of physical barriers dense enough to stop a truck, but open enough to allow pedestrian entry, was designed. Ann Cavanaugh is the Construction Manager for the Department of General Services in charge of building the new line of defense. She says the perimeter barrier will cost just over six million dollars and will be strategically placed just inside the sidewalk. CUT: Cavanaugh13 :13 Extra trees, bushes, cabling, bollards, benches, raised planters that sort of work together in a series to provide the vehicle barrier, but hopefully are a little more invisible once it’s all done. The question remains, will this barrier be enough to stop a potential terrorist attack? Private security expert Kirk Tripe says old fashioned detective work usually trumps High Tech. CUT: Tripe14 :14 Do I want to see anti-aircraft guns on top of the state Capitol? No. Alright. What I wanta see is good solid security with good solid intelligence and law enforcement. And the bad guys are gonna go somewhere else. The beautifully landscaped Capitol Park, which surrounds the building, has traditionally been a place for relaxation and reflection. Ann Cavanaugh insists that won’t change. CUT:AnnCavanaugh22 :22 We’re gonna add, I don’t know, it’s over a hundred park benches in this space. And there’re gonna be a lot more places for people to sit and eat their lunch, or sit in the park. And even though this is a vehicle barrier, there’s no place where it will impede pedestrian traffic into the park. And so there shouldn’t be any change and hopefully more use of the park after this is done. Cavanaugh says construction will begin in January, one side of the building at a time, and will take most of next year to compete. In Sacramento, I’m Mike Montgomery.