MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is asking for millions of dollars in security upgrades to the State Capitol complex, and he says not funding it this year could pose a threat to tens of thousands of Minnesotans who visit the Capitol every year.
The State Capitol got a top-to-bottom overhaul a couple of years ago, including some security upgrades. Now, the Democratic governor says the rest of the Capitol may be vulnerable to attack.
There are thousands of people in and around the State Capitol every day — and emotions often run high. But the Capitol is not the only place with safety issues. State officials say buildings around the Capitol are vulnerable to attack, too.
“The reality is that buildings are at risk, and you never know when something might happen,” Minnesota Commissioner of Administration Matt Massman said. “So it’s important to be prepared.”
The safety plan includes blast-proof glass windows, emergency call stations, steel entrance posts and secure air intake grates. The vulnerable buildings include state departments, legislative offices and visitor destinations like the Minnesota History Center — all of them connected underground by a mostly unsecured tunnel system.
Sen Warren Limmer (R) chairs the Public Safety Committee. He thinks about about security threats from fire danger to an active shooter.
“We have to be prepared,” he said. “This is an open building. We want it to be open, for the public to enjoy the building and to get to us. But at the same time, we know there are threats that come from time to time.”
Despite the $33 million price tag, the public won’t see most of the security upgrades.
“We’re just like any private business or employer,” Massman said. “We need to take seriously our response to protect both the people who work here, and people who visit here and access services.”