City Council aide and former hostage Alan Grip said he was "pleased with it," Council member John A. Wilson called it a "waste of money." O. B. Cassell, assistant director of buildings management for the city, acknowledged that it was not sufficient.
All three were giving their assessments of the effect of a walk-through, metal-detecting arch that went into use yesterday at the main entrance to the District Building, where one person was killed, three were wounded and 13 others held hostage during a March 9.11 armed takeover by Hanafi Muslims.
The metal detector was installed at the 13 1/2 Street (East) entrance to the building, where most visitors come. It was one of two such machines put into use this week as part of an increased security program at city buildings following the takeover.
The other detector is being used in Building A of the D.C. Superior Court, where all 12 Muslims accused oftaking part in the siege of three buildings in the city went on trial Tuesday.
District Building workers, city officials and visitors did not appear to be too much bothered by the shout delays necessitated by the searching of all packages comong into the building, and having to empty their pockets if the machine was set off as they passed through.
Wilson was one of the few who objected. "Idon't feel like being harassed by anything in the morning." Wilson said. "It seems to me that if anybody wants to bring anything into the building, they'll bring it in."
Wilson noted that while there was a walk-through detector at one entrance to the building, only a hand-held metal-detecting scanner was in use at the 14th street entrance - the one through which two Muslims brought a shotgun and three swords in the March incident.
"It's a waste of money," Wilson said. "I don't think public officials can be secure, period."
Cassell acknowledged that a single detector in the District Building was not sufficient. The city plans to purchase six more of the $1,400 machines, he said, but the exact placement of them will not be known until a revised comprehensive security plan is adopted.