Minnesota lawmakers hear about Capitol Complex security upgrades
Just over two months after approving another $9 million for security upgrades at the Minnesota State Capitol Complex, state lawmakers learned about how millions of dollars have already been spent in recent years.
“At the Capitol complex here there are several different threats that we have,” Chris Guevin of the Minnesota Department of Administration told members of the Advisory Committee on Capitol Area Security on Thursday. He said the threats take many forms. “One of them are violent extremists that just have a cause and they want to do damage whether it’s a government building or otherwise. So that’s what this type of hardening will do or reinforcement will do to protect the buildings.”
The reinforcements include bollards — sturdy, heavy-duty vertical posts — security gates that can stop a truck at full speed, security kiosks with bullet-resistant glass in some building lobbies and impact-resistant film on the lower-floor windows of some buildings.
“The purpose of the film is to prevent the glass shards that might be the result of any explosion,” Guevin said. “We’ve done this around several of the buildings on the Capitol Complex but there’s more to do.”
The first metal detector in the Capitol Complex has also been installed in the Judicial Center. One lawmaker expressed concern about why none are planned for the State Capitol.
“The lack of metal detectors in this building and the State Office Building is concerning to me,” said Rep. Kelly Moller, DFL-Shoreview. “I’ve been in an advisory capacity on renovations for the State Office Building, and I’ve made that position known as well, and I think that’s really something we need to take seriously.”
Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer also updated lawmakers on a shortage of state troopers and non-sworn security guards. He says lawmakers have provided adequate funding but it’s difficult to fill the jobs.
“That’s purely a function of just the recruitment challenges in today’s work environment, in particular with policing,” he told lawmakers.
For now, those shortages are being covered by state troopers willing to work overtime.
In 2023 the Legislature authorized $8.8 million in bonding money and nearly $300,000 more in general funds to continue the security upgrades. However, lawmakers were told millions more will be needed in the future to finalize upgrades throughout the Capitol Complex.