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Expect stronger safety measures in Annapolis office buildings

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on December 28, 2001:

Senator Dyson How tight is security in Annapolis after the tragic events of September 11? A Maryland legend, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, former two-term governor and long-time Mayor of Baltimore, was recently told he couldnít enter a state office building because he didnít have his identification badge.

The Comptroller had to go retrieve his photo I.D. before he was allowed to enter.

I can imagine how much fun the comptrollerís elected predecessor, the late Louis L. Goldstein, would have had with that. Or would he? While on the surface it seems funny, in deeper retrospect itís actually pretty sad. Itís not sad that a recognizable face such as Schaeferís was denied access to a state building without proper identification. Itís sad because weíve been forced to undertake such stringent security precautions since that terrible day.

Gone are the days of being able to freely roam about the State Capital or the Senate or House office buildings without so much as a glance from a police officer or security guard.

But weíve found out that there are enough crackpots out there who would love nothing better than to put innocent people in harmís way. We have had some incidents in the Senate gallery and committee rooms in the past where heated issues were being debated and constituentsí tempers flared often to the point of them threatening violence. Luckily, they were subdued by the State Police. But nowadays, we canít just shrug these types of potential outbursts off like we did in the past.

Now this is the world we all live in and like it or not, weíre going to have to learn to accept it. In the past, security was present in state buildings, but the general public could generally come and go as it pleased. It may have had to sign in, but most of the time the public didnít even have to do that.

Often, the gallery overlooking the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates is full of spectators, be they student groups, tourists interested in watching their government at work or interested parties listening to debate on a bill that is of particular interest to them.

I have always had an open-door policy for my constituents in Annapolis. That ís still the case. But getting in there is going to be a little difficult. But just a little. My office is no longer in the James Senate Building which is being renovated for a year. For this Session, my staff and I have relocated to relatively small cubicles and offices in the new Miller Senate Office Building. When you visit the new office you will experience the same type of security check in procedure that you do at the airport.

Metal detectors will be placed at the entrance of the Miller building and you will be asked to put your keys, change and other metal objects in a container and asked to go through the detectors. You will also be asked to produce a photo identification. Without proper photo identification, you will be denied access. If the detector is activated as you step through, you will be courteously asked to step aside to be brushed by hand-held metal detectors to determine what activated the detector at the door.

Once passing through this process, you will be issued a visitorís badge and will be on your way.

This whole procedure will be in place as well in the State House, Lowe House Office Building, Legislative Services Building and the Goldstein Treasury Building as well.

For your protection once inside any of the buildings, two new uniformed State Troopers have been dispatched to patrol all floors of all of the buildings as well as Department of General Services Police and guards. As usual, plainclothes troopers will guard the Senate and House galleries while in Session and in Committee.

I hope this strong security presence will make you feel more comfortable visiting your State Capital and state representatives.

I write all this for one reason -- to encourage you to come to Annapolis and not be dissuaded because of these new security precautions. By all means, you should see how your state government operates and have easy access to your elected officials. I just wanted to let you know that if you have been here before, to discuss a legislative issue or just to visit, access wonít be as easy, but it will also be just a minor inconvenience at best.

I look forward to seeing you in Annapolis, be it in the Senate gallery or in my office beginning January 9. Just remember, donít leave your photo identification at home or in your car! Although I will recognize and welcome you, the guardís most likely will not.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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