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Thursday, April 28, 2005 02:58 pm

Security situation

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The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum opened to the public on April 16
PHOTO BY GINNY LEE

Security measures at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum have been decreased during the past four weeks, according to local law enforcement and sources inside the complex. Ever since an ALPLM security guard accidentally discharged his weapon into the carpet on March 27, all but one guard has been unarmed.

Christine Glunz, ALPLM spokesperson, declines to confirm the status of the guards, but says the security situation was placed under review when one officer inadvertently fired his weapon while handing the gun over to another officer inside the security control room.

“An internal investigation is being conducted, and an external investigation, in regards to the discharged round that struck the floor,” she says. “There may have been changes made within security, but those changes are due to the investigation currently underway and are in no way permanent.”

The officer responsible for the accidental discharge has been disciplined and reassigned, Glunz says.

Another officer not involved in the incident subsequently resigned, citing an inability to ensure the safety of employees.

Last week, during opening festivities, ALPLM security was augmented by the presence of officers from a variety of law enforcement agencies, including the Secret Service.

It’s a ticklish problem — protecting priceless artifacts, such as the Gettysburg Address, written in Abraham Lincoln’s own hand, in a place built to attract the general public. Other presidential library and museum complexes use armed security guards at least part of the time. Most security directors were reluctant to go into detail for the record, saying to do so could compromise security. But they say some guards carry weapons some of the time.

At the Gerald R. Ford Museum, in Grand Rapids, Mich., only one guard carries a firearm, while the other three (or four, depending on time of day), are unarmed, Deputy Director Jim Kratsas says in an e-mail. “Our police department is only two minutes away,” he adds.

At the Harry S. Truman Museum, in Independence, Mo., a security officer who asked not to be quoted by name said a certain number of officers carry weapons. Most security officers at the complex, he says, are retired cops.

Most such libraries and museums fall under the supervision of the National Archives and Records Administration. Susan Cooper, spokesperson for NARA, says the museums follow guidelines set by the office of Homeland Security.

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