Christine Stuart Photo
Beginning early in the legislative session, visitors to the state Capitol and the Legislative Office Building will be required to pass through metal detectors.

State Capitol Police announced the new security measure in a press release Friday afternoon. Police recommended installing the devices and legislative leaders signed off on the proposal. The new security protocol also includes adding package scanning devices, reducing the number of entrances open to visitors, and adding a bomb detection dog to the Capitol police’s ranks.

“In our continuing mission to provide the safest environment for legislators, staff, and the nearly 150,000 annual visitors, including more than 25,000 school children, to the Capitol Complex, the [department] will implement and deploy weapons detection equipment,” the statement said.

Although metal detectors are a common security measure at the Capitol buildings in many states, they have rarely been used at the Connecticut Capitol complex. Capitol police temporarily installed two metal detectors in the Legislative Office Building last January, when more that 2,000 people came to the building for a public hearing on gun control.

Rep. Ernest Hewett, D-New London, pushed last year
to have the devices installed in both buildings but his legislation was never acted upon. At the time, legislative leaders said they hoped it would not be necessary.

On Friday, Gabe Rosenberg, a spokesman for House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, said leaders accepted the security recommendations of the Capitol Police.

“When it comes to the public’s safety at the Capitol and Legislative Office Building, the leaders depend on the expertise of our Capitol Police, and accepted their recommendations for enhanced security to better protect all our visitors and everyone who works here,” he said.

According to Friday’s press release, Capitol police traveled to nearby state Capitols over the summer to gather information on their weapon detection systems.

“After obtaining this information, we formulated our recommendation to deploy a system for the Capitol Complex and submitted it to the legislative leaders. The legislative leaders have accepted our recommendations. We will be implementing a plan that requires all visitors and outside deliveries to be screened,” the statement said.

People who work in the two buildings and have been issued ID badges will not be scanned as they enter the Capitol complex, but they will need to swipe the badges.