With issues of security at government buildings under a new microscope, a panel of Minnesota officials is in the early stages of rethinking safety at the State Capitol in St. Paul.
"It's clear to me, and I hope it is clear to you, too, that we need to take seriously our commitment to make the Capitol a safe place for all who come here," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who chairs the Advisory Committee on Capitol Area Security, said as it met Friday.
The violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and armed protests in St. Paul in recent weeks have made the need clear, Flanagan said.
In 2020, there were 117 rallies or protests held at the Capitol complex, according to Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington. There were 530 reports of suspicious activity, 203 reports of suspicious people and 81 cases of criminal damage to property on the Capitol grounds.
Since June 2020, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has tracked events with potential threats. The BCA logged 88 events with some threat of violence, with about 8,000 attendees in total.
Flanagan said more meetings will be held over the next few weeks. One will focus on the issue of firearms at the complex, she said. People with a permit to carry weapons are now allowed to bring them on the campus as long as they notify the Department of Public Safety beforehand.