As the full legislature considers the two-year budget, Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs says he expects the crowds to increase at the statehouse but not to the extent that was seen during the height of the collective bargaining debate in February and March.
Considering recent threats to politicians, Tubbs says safety takes priority. “Our position is not political; it’s strictly about public safety.” That also means providing quick and easy access to exits, if needed.
Four entrances will remain open all week, and Tubbs says they have no plans to close any doors. In fact, he says, it’s under daily review to see whether even more doors could be open. “We are working very, very closely with local law enforcement, sharing information and intelligence about what’s taking place, as well as meeting with citizens groups.”
The Capitol building normally closes at 6pm, but as long as lawmakers are debating, the public will be able to observe. However, Tubbs stresses no more sleepovers, no signs on walls, no noisemakers in the building. “Sleeping bags, back packs, pillows … those types of items are not allowed in the Capitol.”
Tubbs says contingency plans are in place with local law enforcement agencies if needed in the Capitol. “Basically you have to be prepared for anything. You expect the unexpected; you plan for the worst and pray for the best.”
As for the additional access this week, he wouldn’t say how many additional officers are in place or at what cost. The Wisconsin State Patrol, University of Wisconsin Police, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Justice are working with the Capitol Police.