SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Administrators and tactical advisors with the Utah Department of Public Safety are preparing for increased rallies and protests from Utahns exercising their First and Second Amendment rights.
“We hope we are ready in case things turn to the worst like they did at our nation’s Capitol, and that we can respond appropriately without individuals getting hurt, loss of life, and damage to property,” says DPS and Utah Highway Patrol’s Lieutenant Nick Street.
January is the beginning of a busy year for the state. Events include Governor Spencer Cox’s first State of the State Address, the Legislative Session, and the Presidential Inauguration.
“So with all of those things going on, you will see increased staffing when it comes to the security at the capital,” he adds.
Lt. Street confirms the state is expecting protests beginning on January 17, maybe earlier.
He says, “It is in an interesting balance to make sure we keep that openness and, we allow that building to be a building of the people, but at the same time, we have the additional job as state troopers in being in charge of the security at the capitol to protect our lawmakers, to protect or elected leaders, and to protect the overall grounds and facilities.”
Lt. Street tells us, First and Second Amendment advocates and Social Justice advocates will be treated the same.
“It is a delicate balance and it is something that we don’t take lightly, and we are constantly evaluating and reevaluating, and hoping we can meet any security needs that come up,” says the Lieutenant.
When it comes to the Second Amendment, state officials want to remind Utahns that, per state law, firearms will need to be holstered or encased, and if you do not have a Concealed Firearm Permit you cannot open carry loaded.
“There is an action that can be taken if there is treating behavior, and a firearm isn’t holstered or encased,” says Lt. Street. “So that is something that individuals that want to take advantage of exercising or displaying their Second Amendment rights need to be aware of.”
When it comes to protecting the police, Lt. Street says, “A lot of individuals that do that say that they are doing that to help security efforts, to help the police, we are not asking for that.”
Lt. Street goes on to say, “As far as the Department of Public Safety is concerned, that adds that extra variable to otherwise situations that can be volatile, and we would advise against it.”
The Department of Public Safety tells ABC4 News it will monitor open-sourced media for any potential threats.
Stay with ABC4 News as this story will continue to develop.
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