COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – Multiple law enforcement agencies are working together to provide enhanced security at the South Carolina Statehouse and other facilities after the FBI issued a warning about possible armed protests around the nation.
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety, State Law Enforcement Division, City of Columbia Police Department and Richland County Sheriff’s Department are collaborating to ensure the safety and security of the South Carolina State House complex leading up to the Inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20th.
In an announcement on Friday, agencies are working to plan and prepare for the deployment of resources and have begun steadily increasing vigilance and manpower since last week at the Statehouse and the surrounding area.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Statehouse will be closed to all visitors from January 16th – January 20th.
“Our goal — first and foremost — is to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the safety of our State Capitol Complex and the surrounding area where our state’s citizens should be free to visit, participate in peaceful protests and our elected officials and personnel should feel safe to conduct business,” said C Department of Public Safety Director Robert G. Woods, IV.
Woods said the events of the last week around the nation, as well as the threats against State Capitols, have necessitated a more heightened security posture in the coming days.
Beginning this weekend and stretching through Inauguration, the public should expect to see more law enforcement vehicles; a perimeter around the State House that will include physical barriers as well as more law enforcement presence – both inside and outside the State House.
“SLED stands alongside our partners at the SC Department of Public Safety as well as our local, state and federal law enforcement to ensure the safety and security of our State House Complex,” said State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel. “We will work together to protect South Carolinians’ right to peaceably assemble and exercise their Constitutional rights while maintaining public safety.”
Additional law enforcement from the SC Department of Public Safety, augmented by local and state agencies, will be posted in the lobbies of each building on the State House Complex.
There will also be signage on the grounds that will remind the public that no weapons are allowed on the State House grounds. South Carolina Section 10-11-320: “It is unlawful for any person or group of persons to: carry or have readily accessible to the person upon the Capitol grounds or within the Capitol building any firearm or dangerous weapon…”