The State Department will institute new security measures today at its headquarters here, including requiring all employes to pass through metal detectors, and Senate leaders are discussing whether to tighten security at the U.S. Capitol.
New concerns have arisen about security as a result of shootings at the State Department last Friday as well as increasing international terrorism.
State Department spokeswoman Donna Gigliotti said that, starting today, all persons will be required to wear identification tags or building passes at all times inside the building at 22nd and C streets NW. Further changes, particularly regarding the building's basement garage entrance, are "still being talked about," according to Gigliotti.
Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.) yesterday received a short report from the Senate Sergeant at Arms on the status of security at the Capitol, and he plans to discuss with Senate Minority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) whether more security measures are needed, a spokeswoman said.
Security at the Capitol was tightened significantly after a bomb exploded in November 1983 outside the Senate chambers. Staff members, reporters and lobbyists were required to wear identification cards, and traffic was restricted on the Capitol plaza.
On Friday, 20-year-old Edward Steven Doster entered the State Department and fatally shot and stabbed his mother, Carole Doster, 44, before killing himself in a seventh-floor office that was down a hall from where Secretary of State George P. Shultz was working. Within hours of the shooting, officials began requiring all persons without permanent State Department or U.S. Agency for International Development identification to pass through metal detectors, according to department spokeswoman Sondra McCarty. Police sources said Doster used his permanent dependent's pass to enter the building without going through a metal detector or being searched.
McCarty said, "There have been some complaints on the part of the press" about the new procedures, which require that reporters and camera crews pass through metal detectors. "Generally, however, I think everyone has been pretty understanding."
"It's a nuisance, but it's probably a good idea," said one worker in the department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Tyanna Pendleton, who works in the Office of Monetary Affairs, agreed that the new measures are in order "because it frightened me what happened." Another woman, who asked not be identified, said, "I'm only sorry it didn't happen sooner so as to prevent what happened Friday."
Security measures at federal office buildings in the Washington area vary, according to Ted Leininger, a General Services Administration official with responsibility for regional buildings operations. The Federal Protective Service, which guards the buildings of most federal agencies, is part of the GSA.
"It varies pretty widely from a building like State that is closed, requires passes, and has metal detectors, to the General Services building that has a guard at the front entrance, but there are two other entrances that are totally unguarded," said Leininger.
"We try to keep the government as accessible as possible and the buildings as open as possible," Leininger added.
"It's an exception when we have a pass system," said Leininger, who noted that most buildings do not have metal detectors.
Leininger said he doubted that there would be a review of security policies at agencies other than the State Department as a result of Friday's shootings.
Federal employes are somewhat concerned about the protection of their offices, according to Loretta Ucelli, a spokeswoman for the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing such workers.
"A lot of people, because of recent incidents, feel that there should be more attention on safety issues, protective issues," said Ucelli.
"The administration has paid a lot of attention to securing the White House, but I think that that need to protect should go across the board," Ucelli added.