SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — The Utah National Guard remains on standby Tuesday at the Utah State Capitol as the state’s legislative session started and President-Elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration is Wednesday.
For Utah Highway Patrol it is business as usual. Every year UHP steps up security when the legislative session begins. However, because of Gov. Cox’s state of emergency declaration and the public not allowed inside the capitol or on its steps, things may look a little different.
“Unlawful behavior is not tolerated no matter how upset one is with the system of government we have,” said public information officer Lt. Nick Street with UHP.
The Utah State Capitol has seen countless protesters, demonstrators, and law enforcement officers within the last 9 months.
“Following the events of May 30th, 2020, we learned that not taking action was not really a good stance,” said Street.
Street said his department has been adjusting its behavior to help facilitate the public in peaceful protests. This includes what may happen in the coming days.
“I don’t believe you’ll see anything like you saw Sunday,” said Street. “That was sort of unprecedented for what we thought the threat was.”
Due to Gov Cox’s executive order, if a protest breaks out it lawfully can only be done on the south lawn of the capitol. The building is closed to the public until at least Friday.
Jess Anderson, the commissioner of public safety in Utah, said law enforcement is always ready to do their job.
“We are simply here to provide assistance and support to do what we can to defend and make sure personal life and safety are first and foremost as emotions drive a lot of what we are seeing,” said Anderson.
Street does not expect a large gathering at the capitol Wednesday but said the Utah National Guard is ready to help if they are needed.
He added there could be new security measures in place at the capitol in the near future.
“If 2020 has taught us anything, this includes COVID concerns, is that we cannot take our eye off the 8-ball,” said Street. “We have to make sure we are on our game all the time.”
Street said something like a bag check might be necessary to have as a security check at the capitol.
He hopes the capitol can open back up to the public this Friday.