Capitol's new doors raise security concern

SPRINGFIELD – Copper-plated doors at the Illinois state Capitol that drew criticism for a hefty price tag earlier this year have now raised questions about security.

State Rep. Mike Bost, a Murphysboro Republican, filed a resolution earlier this month requesting that security cameras be installed outside the doors. He said he heard complaints from security guards that the newly renovated doors obstructed views for guards inside who monitor visitors to the Capitol. The doors, part of a pricey renovation at the historic building in Springfield, have a decorative pane of glass that Bost said could keep guards from spotting potential danger earlier.

“From foot level up to hip level, you could hide something until you walk through the door. Then, you’re 5 to 7 feet away from the first guard.

That’s dangerous,” Bost told the Chicago Sun-Times for a story published in Sunday’s newspapers.

There have been security issues at the Capitol before.

In 2004, a man armed with a shotgun fatally shot an unarmed guard. After the shooting, metal detectors and X-ray machines were installed.

Bost’s resolution asks that Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, whose office oversees Secretary of State Police, and Capitol architect J. Richard Alsop III install the cameras.

White’s spokesman Henry Haupt says Secretary of State Police are comfortable with the current security measures.

“However, if the General Assembly or the office of the architect wants to consider ways to potentially further enhance security, we are always open to new ideas and are willing to institute them,” Haupt said. “As a matter of course, Secretary of State Police is continuously reviewing security procedures in an ongoing effort to improve overall security of the state Capitol complex.”

The doors were part of renovations that drew heavy criticisms for lavish spending at a time when Illinois is mired in financial problems. That includes having the worst-funded public pension system in the nation. But Alsop and others have said the changes helped restore a historically significant building.