Save for the faces lining the North Dakota Hall of Fame, the Capitol building is a ghost town as lawmakers recess until Wednesday. But there are some you’ll see every day who keep the building safe, whether session is in or out.
North Dakota’s Capitol Security sees about 200 to 300 people come through the building when the legislature is in session — down from about 1,000 a day last session when COVID protocols weren’t in place.
Sgt. Tim Coughlin has worked for the State Patrol for 14 years and directed Capitol security for the last three. His team oversees several state buildings, including the library, the Department of Transportation and the Governor’s residence.
He says the break in the session is helpful for more than just lawmakers.
“This is kind of the interesting part of the legislative session. We go from being really high-paced and busy to this lull in the action so to speak, so it’s kind of a good chance for us to recuperate, give a couple days off to some people, do some equipment maintenance type things, and then get ready to go back at it again,” Coughlin said.
In past sessions, schools used to take field trips at the Capitol, and hundreds more people would show up to testify. But pandemic protocols — and access to virtual testimony — have changed that.