State House security checkpoint, metal detector up and running

Posted Jan. 19, 2012, at 9:56 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A security checkpoint designed to detect weapons has been set up at the main entrance to the Maine State House.

The checkpoint, including a metal detector, started operating this week following a decision in May to allocate the $546,000 needed to pay staffers to run the checkpoint.

The decision to install the checkpoint came after U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in Arizona and former Maine Rep. Frederick Wintle was arrested and charged with pointing a gun at a stranger.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jonathan Courtney told Maine Today Media the checkpoint protects workers and visitors.

Portland Democratic Sen. Justin Alfond questioned the expense and said the checkpoint provides a false sense of security.

The Capitol police chief says several knives have already been confiscated, but later returned to their owners.

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