Walk-through metal detector at Legislative Building
Metal detector in place, but will not be operational when session starts Oct. 25
Saskatchewan’s marble palace has a new archway — a walk-through metal detector — as stepped-up security comes to the province’s Legislative Building.
Sergeant-at-arms Terry Quinn said Thursday that while the screening device is now in place near the front entrance, it will still take some time for training and getting personnel in place before the $10,000 piece of equipment becomes operational. That will happen shortly, although not before the new legislative session starts Oct. 25.
The security measures will then be rolled out slowly, Quinn said. “Small steps at a time.”
The device is identical to the screening at the province’s courthouses and airports.
“You empty your pockets, and you walk through,” Quinn said.
For two decades, Quinn’s predecessor in the job, Patrick Shaw, called for the installation of metal detectors. Concerns around security were further heightened after a shooting on Parliament Hill Oct. 22, 2014. A report was commissioned after that to assess the Saskatchewan Legislative Building’s security needs, but a costly list of recommendations has been tempered by austerity measures. The review did result in upgrades of the building’s surveillance system in 2015.
Quinn, a retired RCMP officer appointed to the job in July 2016, admitted there’s a fine balance between ensuring public access to the province’s seat of government, and ensuring safety.
“My role is security, but it’s very, very important to me that this certainly is the building for the people,” he said. “We may slow people down, but we will never stop people if they want to come for a tour or things like that — visitors that are coming for reasons. “We just try to keep it safe.” In 2015, a couple who were part of the freeman-on-the-land movement were arrested for a ruckus at the Legislative Building in which a security officer was bitten, and in 1997 a man tried to make a citizen’s arrest of then-MLA John Nilson by grabbing him by the arm. Quinn said more than incidents like that, it’s world events that have made everyone take more precautions.
“We know Saskatchewan, we hope it’s a very safe province ... but there is a reality that it can happen anywhere. We can mitigate as best we can; that’s what we’re here for.”
Quinn said recently there has also been upgrades to security cameras, and the back entrance now has a security door that must be opened by a commissionaire, although staff can still enter with their security fobs. Security measures at the Prince of Wales entrance are still being worked out, but may involve metal-detection wands.
Media have also been required to have photo identification issued by Quinn’s office.
A walk-through metal detector has been installed at the front entrance of the Saskatchewan Legislative Building.