WRAL Investigates

Lawmakers' security expands as Capitol Police cut

Posted July 22, 2011

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— The state budget that took effect this month included cuts to programs from education to social services.

The State Capitol Police, for example, saw its budget reduced by $2 million, which forced the elimination of 40 positions, Chief Scott Hunter said Friday. The force provides security for most state government buildings in downtown Raleigh, including museums that teem with students and other visitors.

"After 5 p.m., there are no State Capitol Police officers patrolling state property in cars, checking property for security and safety," Hunter said of the impact of the cuts. "It's not a comfortable feeling."

Yet, lawmakers added $3 million to their own budget to beef up security at the General Assembly.

"It's misleading, and it's also unwise," Sen. Dan Blue said of the shift in funding.

Blue, D-Wake, who voted against the budget, said the state should protect all government workers and not place a priority on lawmakers.

NC General Assembly 4x3 Budget moves mean less, more security at capitol

"I was more interested in doing those essential things instead of setting up a reserve to protect legislative leaders," he said.

Sen. Andrew Brock, R-Davie, said recent protests that interrupted House proceedings reinforce the need for upgraded security to protect lawmakers, staff and visitors alike.

"If you compare our building to other government buildings around, where they have a photo identification system, take your picture, put it on a sticker (and) visitors wear a badge, we don't have that here," Brock said.

Observers note that the legislative complex in Raleigh is more open and accessible to the public than legislative buildings in most other states.

The security force for the General Assembly includes 21 people, while the State Capitol Police now has 49 officers and staff.

Security upgrades at the General Assembly are still being worked out, but Brock said they will likely include metal detectors and restricted access at entrances to the legislative buildings. Improved security technology behind the scenes also should be in place by next spring, he said.

"The world we know has changed, and we've got to make the proper changes for protection," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • readerman Jul 25, 2011

    So, the GA spends more money on protection for itself at the expense of the public AND raises the budget $1 million. They only look out for themselves. Let's get all new ones in there.

  • we-r-just-human Jul 22, 2011

    depsce if you merge the fairground police who will protect the clowns... never mind that's who the General Assembly trying to protect...

  • commonsensenc Jul 22, 2011

    Capital State Police employees should be the top priority for those jobs!

  • miseem Jul 22, 2011

    Mistake. Cutting 40 positions in State Capitol police. Seems like that would have provided a lot of security for a part time legislature and still left a million for technology upgrades. Once again, wonder who will get the contracts.

  • lawranger9752 Jul 22, 2011

    to rebuke the earlier comment the officers who work for state capitol police are very professional and well trained I don’t no how many times they were there when we needed them especially in the crosswalks and since they have been gone a 70 year old woman was hit at one of those crosswalks where they use to conduct patrols we need this agency 24 hours I am a state employee and like the article says it's a different world now and the other 90% of government needs protection also if you want to save money merge fairgrounds police with state capitol and general assembly why have a police department for a building and a fair just a thought

  • miseem Jul 22, 2011

    Let's see. Cut State Capitol police by 2 million, cutting 20 jobs. Add 3 million to legislative "protection". Wonder who will get the contracts and how many positions it will take.

  • GingerTea Jul 22, 2011

    Hire a receptionist to pass out visitor tags. Legislators and other staff in the building,visit the nearest correctional facility- get ID's made at Central Prison (prisons make ID tags for their employees). Just a thought.

  • theinstallman Jul 22, 2011

    police do not protect, you must protect your self and be able to do so till they see fit to show up. I suggest more than one gun

  • ProudBlackSingleMother Jul 22, 2011

    So they want to restrict access to the building to keep the minions out?

    Sounds like a scam to me... they should not get that 2mil... it should be returned to the citizens that actually pay taxes.

  • Rebelyell55 Jul 22, 2011

    Oh how they can mis-lead the public. If they had not abuse the system and had too many to start with the cuts wouldn't of much mattered. They inflated their budget and now have to live with what they got. This is not the only agency who is doing this and claiming, the budget cuts as and excuse for not doing their jobs. We'll hear more. Over inflated agencies with poor management is no longer acceptable. The goverment better crack down on these agency and demand they perform better. If not , fire the managers and director, they are not worth their pay. There is plenty of people who can do the job, it's a buyer market of people now a days. Perfect time to get rid of those low performers.