The events that unfolded in our nation's Capitol were a stark contrast to the peaceful protests at the Connecticut State Capitol earlier in the day. But with tensions running high across the country, Capitol Police are making some changes.
The barriers are still up at the state Capitol, where hundreds of protesters came Wednesday to object to executive orders and legislation that would eliminate the religious exemption to childhood vaccines. It was a peaceful protest that ended with one arrest.
“We really didn’t have a lot of incidents here. People who showed up they have every right to come here and protest or speak their mind on something they are passionate about,” Officer Scott Driscoll said.
There’s a long history of safe protesting at the state Capitol which has a police force of 33 officers.
But they are taking extra steps in response to what happened in Washington, DC.
“Right now we do have some extra patrols out just to keep an extra eye and that’s not because of any threats, that’s because we want to monitor what’s happening in our national Capitol and make sure we do everything we can to prevent it from happening here,” Driscoll said.
He wouldn't provide any specifics, but said the capitol police will continue to respect the right of residents to protest their government.
“Our Capitol complex right here is a safe place and we’re doing everything in our power to keep it that way,” Driscoll said.
Michael Lawlor, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven and a former lawmaker, said Connecticut's Capitol Police force is special.
“I spent a lot of time talking to state Capitol Police officers, I mean they’re extremely professional, they’re not in any way confrontational or provocative. They’re specially trained and picked with that skill set,” Lawlor said.
But Wednesday may change how they do their jobs.
“Every state capitol in the country now is going to have to rethink it’s security rules and unfortunately things are going to have to get much more restrictive. We saw this after 9/11,” Lawlor said.
“We are aware of what’s happened at the Capitol and are taking a close eye on that and monitoring the situation,” Driscoll said.
The building is currently closed to the public because of COVID-19. The decision to install metal detectors in 2014 was controversial.
“I think it’s going to be much more difficult to bring a group of people into the capitol building,” Lawlor said.
Lawlor added: “Yesterday changed everything for security of government operations and government officials.”