RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Police at the North Carolina legislature and Capitol paid close attention Wednesday to the shooting in Virginia and visitors to their own facilities.
The North Carolina General Assembly has its own special police force while the State Capitol Police cover all of the other state government buildings in Wake County.
“Many targets in the state government complex, potential targets, are what we refer to as soft targets. So we have to watch people and watch for suspicious activity,” State Capitol Police Chief Glen Allen said.
“Every time there is an active shooter event like this or a terrorist attack here or anywhere in the world, it does increase your vigilance, and you tend to be a little hyper-sensitive towards suspicious activity,” he said.
“We would like people who are working and visiting the state government to maintain that vigilance at all times.”
Increasing that level of awareness on a day like Wednesday would mean it isn’t as high at other times, and they never want a lapse in attentiveness. Allen said his officers didn’t do anything differently after the shootout involving U.S. Capitol Police and the gunman in Alexandria, Virginia. They have a private network to communicate with Capitol Police in the nation’s capital as well as other state capitals.
Chief Martin Brock said the officers who serve the General Assembly have the same police powers inside the beltline as the Raleigh Police Department, and they have statewide jurisdiction when investigating threats against members of the legislature, their immediate families, and their staff. NCGA officers also have statewide jurisdiction when traveling for legislative purposes such as special session or town hall meetings.
“When we have national incidents like this, we become very concerned and take it very seriously,” Brock said.
“We’re always evaluating our security needs and measures and evaluating what’s going on.”
The governor and lieutenant governor have Department of Public Safety officers assigned to them full time.
Chief Allen said security extends beyond the elected.
“We’re also here to provide safety and security for every person that works in the state government complex, the tens and thousands of visitors that come to the state government complex each and every day,” Allen said.
While State Capitol Police do much of their work out of sight, they will have a much more visible presence during protests and demonstrations at the Capitol building and other state government offices.