BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Security at the North Dakota Capitol that was beefed up in 2016 due to protests involving the Dakota Access pipeline should remain in place, the North Dakota Highway Patrol told lawmakers Thursday.
Capt. Jody Skogen told a legislative panel the enhanced security measures that include metal detectors and more troopers patrolling the Capitol and outside the governor’s office have proven “effective and unobtrusive.”
Skogen said up to 1,000 visitors daily pass through the security checkpoint at the Capitol when lawmakers are in session. Some weapons have been discovered at the checkpoint, he said.
The appeal by the Highway Patrol, which always has been assigned to provide security for the governor and the Capitol, comes as some lawmakers questioned the need for the increased measures after protests ended in North Dakota for the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline.
Republican House Majority Leader Al Carlson, who heads the committee that includes GOP and Democratic floor leaders, said he doesn’t like the increased security but signaled lawmakers would keep it in place.
“We’re not in the day and age we were before,” Carlson said.
Democratic House Minority Leader Corey Mock last month asked the patrol to disclose the costs of providing security for the governor, lieutenant governor and their families, a move he said is needed for budget reasons.
Troopers, both in uniform and plainclothes, can routinely be seen with Gov. Doug Burgum at events across the state, something that was rare or nonexistent in previous administrations.
The Highway Patrol has said the costs of providing security to the state’s executive branch are protected by state law.
A report obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request found that before the increased measures, troopers said security for the governor was “well below the national standards.”