Starting this week the two public entrances to the General Assembly will be seeing security upgrades including metal detectors, which public visitors will be required to pass through each time before coming into the building.
The metal detectors and x-ray machines and screeners will ferry through members of the public, as well as journalists and lobbyists that frequent the building while legislators and staff will be able to bypass the lines through a separate entrance.
Currently there will be no change to the two entrances to the Legislative Office Building, which houses many of the committee meetings for the legislature, as well as most member offices.
Specifics about the security upgrades have been light but Paul Coble, legislative services officer for the General Assembly, issued a release Friday bringing some clarity to changes, which have been discussed for months.
“The Legislative Building for the General Assembly has always been the ‘People’s Building,’ and all members of the public, including daily school group tours, will continue to have access to their government and the legislative process,” Coble said. “Our goal is to make the building safe for all who have business with the General Assembly, as well as for the members, staff, press and citizens of the State of North Carolina.”
While installation is beginning this week it is unclear when the system will come on line as installing the required technology is a large undertaking in the aging building.
Costs for the system, between staff and material costs, is around $1.2 million, with recurring costs for screeners and equipment maintenance.
The change signals a departure from the laissez-faire practices of the past where anyone could walk into the building through the front and rear entrances, though the building was patrolled by uniformed officers of the General Assembly Police.
Other state buildings including the historic State Capitol building, which houses the governor’s office, already use metal detectors.