CARSON CITY — The Nevada Capitol is inching closer to reopening to the public in April, though visitors may find the entrances reminiscent of airport security checkpoints.
Metal detectors and X-ray machines that will greet visitors. Their use can be traced to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by extremist supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“With state legislatures across the country experiencing an uptick in threatening and violent behavior that followed the events of Jan. 6 … we began to look at ways to increase building security and safety protocols,” said Brenda Erdoes, director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.
In Michigan, armed protestors invaded the statehouse in May, while a special session of the Idaho Legislature was temporarily disrupted by protestors in August. In December, armed protestors stormed the Oregon statehouse in Salem.
The events, combined with the riot in Washington, D.C., had Northern Nevada law enforcement on high alert leading up to President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. The FBI had warned of possible riots at all 50 state capitols, though the threat ultimately fizzled out.
In Carson City, a handful of Trump supporters turned out to protest, but mainly waved flags and played music.
Erdoes said Nevada will be at least the 33rd state legislature to implement similar security measures and stressed they are common and effective around the country.
It’s the only real security change this session. Though there will be new staff running the machines, the legislative police presence will remain the same.
“I think we were a pretty secure building before,” Erdoes said. “We have cameras and that kind of thing.”