Governor Inslee to keep National Guard in Olympia through Inauguration, bracing for possible unrest

State Capitols Step Up Security Amid New Safety Concerns
Ted S. Warren

A Washington State Patrol trooper talks with members of the Washington National Guard inside a fence surrounding the Capitol in anticipation of protests Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Olympia, Wash. State capitols across the country are under heightened security after the siege of the U.S. Capitol last week.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – A wake up call for the United States.

National Guard members have been standing by around the clock, protecting capitol buildings from a homegrown enemy.

The FBI has warned of possible threats on all state capitols from extremist groups, like the one we saw attack the nation’s capitol last week.

That’s why Washington Governor Jay Inslee has extended security measures in Olympia. The National Guard will now stay there through the Inauguration on Jan. 20. Washington State Patrol recommended the move to the governor.

“These unfortunate, necessary security precautions could last longer, but we are hopeful that we will soon see political temperatures cool and threat levels come down, bringing a related easing of these restrictions,” Gov. Inslee said.

The National Guard will serve as an extension to WSP in an effort to protect the Capitol.

RELATED ARTICLE: WATCH: WSP updates from the Washington State Capitol

The reports of possible uprisings at state capitols around the U.S. are nothing new for state leaders in Washington.
Protests have gone on for months in Olympia, and after some groups threatened to disrupt opening day of the Washington legislature, WSP pulled out all the stops to keep the Capitol safe.
Fences surrounded the Capitol Campus while National Guard members stood by, armed in riot gear. Now, those elevated security measures will stay in place as long as there is any risk.

Monday’s opening session began with only two arrests in Olympia.

But, WSP believes all types of government buildings could be at risk in the next few weeks, and that security posture is here to stay.

“The thing that was unique about [the FBI warning} that it truly was all 50 states,” WSP spokesman Chris Loftis said. “They have intelligence [the threat] is significant in all 50 states. It wasn’t just a broad warning.”

Loftis called this moment a turning point for the U.S., and he also believes the National Guard are a critical asset in keeping the Capitol protected.

“It sends a powerful message that this is not just law enforcement, it’s a security posture,” Loftis said.

4 News Now was on the ground in Olympia for the open of that legislative session. It’s strange to see these historic buildings fenced off and locked down, especially in a country built on its freedom.

“We’re all in a period of shared medical vulnerability,” Loftis said. “I think your viewers just need to recognize that right now we’re also in a shared civil vulnerability.”

Loftis says this point in history could be remembered like 9/11, where certain security measures go into place for good.

“Throughout history you need those moments that put a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence and a period at the end of a sentence that tells you hey this was real,” Loftis said.