While all eyes are on the nation’s Capitol, the North Dakota state legislative session is underway — meaning more people in and around the capitol grounds.
We find out how you’re being kept safe when you visit the Capitol.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol has an important job off the roads: it’s the agency in charge of security at the State Capitol building.
“We do patrol the entire grounds and it is our responsibility, yes,” said Sgt. Timothy Coughlin Jr., the Director of Capitol Security with the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
But their duties go farther than that. Century Code says the department is in charge of security and protection for the governor.
They are also tasked to provide security and protection for both Houses while in session.
In a normal year, those troopers would see about a thousand people on a busy day, but this year, it’s closer to 200.
“We have noticed that the traffic is considerably lower than what it would be in a normal session,” said Coughlin.
Changes have been made to the Capitol with the south entrance being re-opened, so there is only one entrance for the public.
“All the other entrances to the Capitol are card access only. So if you don’t have card access you have to go through that south entrance. And everyone who goes through the south entrance, even if you’re a state employee is supposed to go through the scanner and everything,” said John Boyle, the Facility Management Division Director for the Office of Management and Budget.
Sgt. Coughlin also wants people to remember: anything that is considered a dangerous weapon is not allowed anywhere on Capitol property.
“So they need to be aware of that so they don’t bring it in and then get embarrassed when they hit security and remember they have something that is not allowed in the building on the grounds,” said Coughlin.
That goes for knives with blades longer than five inches, firearms and tasers.
Coughlin also says before holding any demonstration or event on Capitol grounds you must receive a permit from the Office of Management and Budget.
The only people allowed to carry a firearm on Capitol grounds property are certified peace officers.