PARSIPPANY — A measure to bolster security at the Statehouse complex and other state buildings was introduced by Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce. The resolution (AR189) calls for the FBI and Department of Homeland Security to evaluate procedures at state facilities and recommend public safety improvements to the state police.
“What we never want to happen is for an incident to occur and someone – a legislator, a visitor, or a staffer – to say we didn’t do enough to protect them,” said DeCroce (R-Morris).
State facilities are open to the public and are vulnerable to various threats including terrorist attacks and active shooters. Federal agencies have worked with Connecticut and other states to assess and strengthen state capital security.
The assessments will not cost the state any money.
“With new risks evolving every day, it makes sense to utilize federal resources to reduce risks and protect lives,” DeCroce said. “We can benefit from the leading edge tactics used to secure our nation’s most susceptible soft targets.”
A caseworker with the N.J. Division of Child Protection brought a weapon to the office in Paramus and took her own life. Another DCPP caseworker in 2014 was stabbed repeatedly by a client in the division’s Camden office.
“Political and terrorist attacks, mass shootings, and violence toward law enforcement and elected officials are very real risks that also endanger the general public,” said DeCroce. “Combining the knowledge and expertise of the State Police and the FBI is the best way to keep our buildings safe.”
While violent crime has significantly declined over the last number of years, violent political incidents seem to be increasing.
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot by a rifle-wielding gunman in Alexandria Va. in June 2017, and a would-be assassin killed six people and gravely wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) in 2011.
“We have seen a significant spike in the number of violent protests and political discord dividing our nation. The volatile environment demands better security to protect lives in state buildings,” DeCroce concluded.