The big three state leaders approved seven new security measures for the Capitol, and none of them are X-ray machines or metal detectors that the director of the top Texas police agency said are critical to keep the pink dome safe from armed intruders.
In a letter sent last Thursday, Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus told Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw to go forward with the following security upgrades at the Capitol:
1. Integrate a mass notification system
2. Expand bike patrols
3. Purchase more security equipment
4. Purchase more security kits
5. Emergency medical equipment
6. Explosive detectives with dogs
7. Implement special training programs
There's no mention at all in the letter of X-ray machines or metal detectors. McCraw told lawmakers last month, “There’s no question that to optimize security we have to use X-rays, and we have to use metal detectors.” Perry, however, said he doesn't want the Capitol to look like a security terminal at an airport.
The big three leaders did indicate in their letter, though, that these seven steps won't be the only enhancements. And the letter is vague enough to leave open the possibility that X-rays or metal detectors could be in the works. "The remaining items (in the security proposal) which physically impact the Capitol building will require coordination with the State Preservation Board," the letter says.
Security at the Capitol has been scrutinized since a gunman fired shots on the Capitol grounds Jan. 21. No one was injured in the incident, but it spurred questions about the need for stricter security in and around the building.
Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.