Following two hours of debate on Tuesday, the Missouri Senate took no vote on a bill to require surveillance cameras throughout the Capitol. Proponents say recent threatening acts demand it.
Concerns were elevated in January when someone left orange stickers depicting gun targets on the office doors of several Senate members, followed up a few weeks later by threatening e-mails referencing the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in Arizona in January of 2011. "We determined it was important that the Capitol be safe-guarded and we thought that cameras being installed would be very helpful," says St. Louis Sen. Robin Wright-Jones.
Some two dozen cameras already watch the doors of the Capitol and corridor outside Governor Jay Nixon's office. "It's not just about us that are serving. It's about everyone that uses the Capitol," says Kansas City Sen. Kiki Curls.
Security advocates say most Capitol visitors are surprised there is no longer the level of visitor scrutiny put into place in the months after 9/11. "If you're worried about security here, you got to stop letting pizza delivery guys drive their vans into the basement of the Capitol," says Cape Girardeauâ??s Sen. Jason Crowell.
Even those who support a return to metal detectors and other such measures say there is a delicate balance to be maintained. "We don't want to get into a situation where we have profiling going on,â?? says Sen. Jolie Justus, of Kansas City. â??We don't want to get into a situation where don't feel like they can come to the capitol anymore."
Critics say cameras would be an expensive overreaction. â??I feel perfectly secure, have for ten years here in this building. Compared to parts of my district and parts of other people's districts, I think this is a very safe place," remarks Farmington Sen. Kevin Engler.
An estimate included with the legislation says installing 48 additional cameras at the Capitol could cost the state more than $100,000. Critics say that cannot be justified when the lawmakers have proposed cuts in funding for services for blind people.