By Marc Kovac
The head of the Ohio Department of Public Safety defended a provision added to the midbiennium budget bill that opponents believe could lead to metal detectors and other increased security systems at the Statehouse.
Director Tom Charles told members of the Ohio House’s finance committee that an updated study of Capitol Square security is needed, and the resulting recommendations should be implemented.
“Security is something, if you feel that it’s needed, it isn’t something you wait on to get,” he said. “If you have problems in your garage or home, in your neighborhood, you don’t wait until your wife or children are attacked or hurt. You want it done now.”
He added later, “How much longer do we wait? Do we wait until there’s an incident?”
Charles’ comments came a day after Richard Finan, a former state senator and current chairman of the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, urged the same legislative panel to scrap a budget bill amendment calling for a study of Statehouse security.
Finan is concerned the study will lead to permanent metal detectors, limited entrances and other increased security measures in a building that currently allows more open access to the public.
Finan said metal detectors in particular are unnecessary and unwanted, would lead to decreased visitors at the Statehouse and would be costly to purchase and operate.
He also said the dozens of cameras, an Ohio State Highway Patrol post in the building, and the current availability of portable metal detectors were sufficient to ensure the Statehouse and surrounding grounds are secure.
But Charles said school groups and others would not be hindered by the increased security measures.
He said he visited other Statehouses that use metal detectors, where visitors didn’t seem to have any problems or extensive delays in entering the buildings.
And he said there already are metal detectors in use in other governmental buildings in downtown Columbus, even at the Ohio State Fair.