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Capitol Visitor Center Gets Body Scanners

Capitol Police screen visitors with full body scanners at the Capitol Visitor Center. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

U.S. Capitol Police is beefing up security at the Capitol Visitor Center by installing full body scanners.  

But the department won’t say if the move comes as part of extra measures put in place ahead of President Barack Obama’s Jan. 12 State of the Union address, or if visitors can expect the machines to be long-term fixtures.  

At least two full body scanners can be seen in the entrance of the House chamber section of the Capital Visitor Center just before the spot members of the public enter Emancipation Hall.  

It's unclear if the same goes for the Senate side, because that chamber is not in session. Members of the public used the House entrance to gain access to both galleries this week.  

The scanners, unpopular with privacy advocates who deem them unlawful strip searches, are similar to machines used to screen passengers going through airport security that in recent years have replaced metal detectors.  

The ProVision 2 model used at the CVC is designed to identify metallic and non metallic weapons, explosives, liquids, plastics, ceramics and other potentially hazardous substances, according to the website of L-3 Communications Security & Detection Systems, its manufacturer. The technology aims to reduce privacy concerns by portraying a generic mannequin, rather than an actual view of the body being screened.  

Capitol Police have so far stayed mum on details of additional security measures taken in and around the Capitol grounds ahead of Obama’s final State of the Union address to Congress.  

Police Spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson said the department does not discuss law enforcement or security procedures as part of its policy.  

“The United States Capitol Police are constantly assessing and reassessing our security measures to keep the Congressional community safe,” Jamerson said in a statement. “This includes employing various technological tools. “

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