Security at Conn. Capitol Building Easing Up

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The legislature is easing security at the state Capitol for the first time since it was upgraded in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

State budget cuts will result in the layoffs of unarmed guards who have supplemented the Capitol's 24-member police force since early 2002, when three of the building's five entrances were locked.

Those entrances also will be reopened.

The guards had monitored the two unlocked entrances in the Capitol and two other checkpoints in the Legislative Office Building at yearly cost of nearly $400,000.

The layoffs were part of the effort to keep the state budget under the spending cap, said House Speaker James A. Amann, D-Milford.

The guards will be gone July 5, the first business day after the holiday weekend. The state's fiscal year begins July 1.

However, with a full-time police force and an extensive system of video surveillance at entrances and public corridors, the Capitol still will have significant security, Amann said.

"Cameras are on us 24-7 around that building," Amann said. "We are being watched."

In addition to the Capitol police, state troopers also are on duty in the building to protect the governor and lieutenant governor.

The changes were announced Tuesday in a memo to legislators, staff and others who have offices in the Capitol.

Lt. Gov. Kevin B. Sullivan said he is upset that the Office of Legislative Management made the changes without consulting him or other occupants of Capitol offices.

"Both measures were implemented post-9/11, and I am unaware of conditions of lessened concern for security in public buildings since then," Sullivan said. "Needless to say, I am concerned and equally concerned about the lack of communication."

The General Assembly's Legislative Management Committee, which consists of leaders and senior members of both parties, acts as the manager and landlord of the Capitol complex.