ST. PAUL -- A security task force that convened shortly after a senator was hit in the face with a pie is promoting fewer public entrances to the Capitol complex and the installation of metal detectors.
The March pie assault and a bomb threat in May may not have been prevented by these features, but officials who suggested the new measures Tuesday said the incidents put much-needed attention on overall security.
''You need to recognize that times have changed,'' said Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver. ''Minnesota isn't Mayberry anymore, if it ever was.''
The man who threw a pie at Sen. Carol Flynn over her support of a controversial highway project was convicted of disturbing or intimidating the legislative process and disorderly conduct.
The assault was one of an increased number of incidents meriting security attention at the Capitol complex. State Patrol Chief Anne Beers said assaults, which includes threatening letters, jumped from 18 in 1998 to 61 in 1999. Disturbances and harassment went from 47 to 104. Incidents involving suspicious activity rose from 48 to 73.
The task force drew up four proposals for legislators to consider this session. All would significantly reduce the number of public entrances: from 37 to seven in the Capitol, seven to five in the State Office Building and eight to two in the Judicial Center.
Other recommendations would establish a permanent committee to oversee Capitol security, add more troopers to the governor's security detail and broaden the level of protection for other dignitaries in the judicial, legislative and executive branches when necessary.
Under each option, security at public entrances would resemble the setup at airports and federal buildings, with metal detectors and X-ray machines.
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