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ND Capitol on heightened alert

Submitted Photo A statue of former Gov. John Burke stands outside the newly remodeled south entrance to the North Dakota State Capitol.

Talks by activists of potential armed protests across the country have security officers on a higher level of alert at the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck.

The threats have come as federal investigations continue into an invasion of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 by a number of supporters of President Trump who were attending a rally to protest Electoral College results.

“We are working with various agencies to try to gather any intelligence, seeing if there’s actually any threat to the Capitol. We are going to plan for the worst case scenario,” said Sgt. Wade Kadrmas, safety and education officer with the North Dakota Highway Patrol. The highway patrol oversees state government security.

“It’s on our radar to watch and monitor and to be prepared,” Kadrmas said.

The highway patrol has implemented a communications system for messaging legislators in event of an emergency. A similar notification system already has been in place for Capitol employees.

Senate leadership has begun discussing security actions it might want to take if necessary, but there is no plan at this time to postpone any session activities, said Senate Assistant Majority Leader Jerry Klein, R-Fessenden.

In addition to an increased presence by the highway patrol, he said, Senate members have been notified to be more aware of their surroundings and be alert to individuals in the building or vehicles in the legislative parking lot that are out of the ordinary.

“We need to stay attuned certainly,” Klein said. “Safety is our big concern, not only COVID safety but certainly our well-being.”

He noted the Bismarck Police Department and Burleigh County Sheriff’s Department also are on higher alert.

House Assistant Majority Leader Scott Louser, R-Minot, said House leaders have been in discussions with the highway patrol for the past three days. Although security measures aren’t being publicly disclosed, procedures have been developed.

“We have plans in place, and decisions will be made accordingly,” Louser said.

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