By Sydney Brown
Washington State Journal
Hundreds of officers from the Washington State Patrol and the National Guard will continue to surround the Capitol Campus in Olympia through the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.
WSP spokesperson Chris Loftis said the National Guard will provide up to 750 troops, and some will be armed. For security reasons, he would not specify how many would be armed. All WSP officers will be armed.
“Significant” but temporary fencing will surround the restricted area of the West Campus, Loftis said.
“I don’t know that you could up security any more than it has been,” he said.
Gov. Jay Inslee said a continued law enforcement presence is necessary because state capitols across the country anticipate demonstrations in reaction to the presidential swearing-in. The decision was made at the recommendation of WSP, Inslee said.
“Law enforcement remains present to help ensure that all sides have the opportunity to legally exercise their free speech rights and peaceably assemble in non-restricted areas,” Inslee wrote.
Members of the Washington State Legislature will also be subject to a more thorough entry process, Loftis said. Officials will be required to present their ID at several checkpoints before they can go inside the capitol building, he said.
Legislators expressed wide appreciation for these measures to WSP, Loftis said.
Although the patrol has not found any explicit threats of violence on Inauguration Day, Loftis said the events of last week make the precautions necessary.
Patrol officers arrested two people on the first day of the legislative session. Before that, on Jan. 6, almost 100 people breached the front lawn of Inslee’s governor mansion in Olympia.
“It’s tragic that we’re having to do this, but it has brought calm,” Loftis said.
Also through Jan. 20, the GA Building West Visitor Lot, as well as the north and south parking diagonals, will be closed to the public.
Jennifer Reynolds, the communications manager at the Washington Department of Enterprise Services, said closing these areas reduces the risk of people driving through crowds of demonstrators or law enforcement.
More details on road and capitol closures can be found online through the DES Capitol Campus Interactive Map, Reynolds wrote.
National Guard spokesperson Karina Shagren declined a request for an interview but wrote in an email that the Guard operated under the guidance of WSP. Shagren told The Spokesman-Review on Jan. 14 the Washington State National Guard will send 373 troops to Washington, D.C. in preparation for the inaugural ceremony Jan. 20.
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