Officials blamed supply chain and technical issues.

Metal detectors were to be installed into the Hawaii Capitol’s security system next week, but the state announced Friday that the enhanced screening system has been tentatively delayed until Aug. 7.

State officials blamed “supply chain, equipment calibration and additional installation requirement issues” for the delay, according to a press release on Friday.

Hawaii will be the 38th state to incorporate metal detection into its security measures. The metal detectors will be posted at three entrances, including two at the street-level elevators and one at the basement level. That was initially supposed to happen Monday.

Capitol building under construction 2022.
Metal detectors will be installed at the Hawaii Capitol, but not until August, officials said. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022)

Arekat Pacific Security Inc. was awarded the contract to administer the metal detectors. The Honolulu-based company referred questions to the Department of Accounting and General Services, which declined further comment about the delay.

Previous legislative efforts to install metal detectors at the Capitol have failed.

Hawaii’s State Capitol was built in 1965 in a way that reflects the islands’ cultural values of having an open society that welcomes everyone.

Currently, the Capitol has security services that monitor the entry points by asking visitors for identification and their reason for entering the building.

Sen. Chris Lee has long advocated for such security measures at the Capitol, saying they’re needed because of growing concerns about violence.

“In this day and age, it’s only a matter of time that there could be an incident that will lead to injury or death,” Lee said.

He added that the U.S. Supreme Court decision that expanded the right to carry firearms outside the home adds to the worries. He said nobody has been accused of bringing firearms into the Capitol but some legislators have received threats.

Both Lee and House Speaker Scott Saiki said the measure was a response to some lawmakers, workers, staff and visitors saying they felt unsafe on the Capitol premises.

“We’re just conforming,” Saiki said.

DAGS spokesman Anthony Benabese said that the concept of adding another layer of security at the Capitol is not new. It has been in the works for years with the goal of keeping security standards up to par with other capitols around the country.

While the Capitol will have enhanced security screenings, Saiki emphasized that the building will still be as welcoming to the public.

Lee says beefed-up security should be embraced by the public.

“It creates a safer space where people can show up knowing that they’re not going to be intimidated by other folks showing up, armed and angry about whatever the issue might be and threaten others,” Lee said. “Which I think has clearly happened here and certainly is happening all over the rest of the country right now.”

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