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At the state Capitol, a quiet day amid heightened security

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OLYMPIA — Calm prevailed on the campus of the state Capitol on Wednesday (Jan. 20) as the inauguration of President Joe Biden proceeded in the nation’s capital.

There were no demonstrations and no arrests. Hundreds of Washington State Patrol troopers and Washington National Guard members remained on standby but were far less visible than in recent days, when they took up positions behind temporary fencing erected around the perimeter of the legislative building.

Security ramped up following the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. That same day a couple dozen protesters broke through a gate to reach the front porch of the residence of Gov. Jay Inslee before retreating.

Since then, it has been mostly quiet with no large protests. An Everett man was detained Jan. 11, the opening day of the legislative session, when he tried to walk past a security gate.

Federal authorities also warned of the potential for armed protests at state capitols and government buildings across the country on inauguration day.

“We have had no incidents the last couple days. We think our security posture over the last week has contributed to that success,” said Sgt. Darren Wright of the Washington State Patrol.

The tab for security is rapidly nearing $2 million for the Washington State Patrol alone.

Personnel costs totaled $1,507,450 between Jan. 6 and 19. Roughly $1 million of the total is for overtime, according to Chris Loftis, WSP’s director of communications.

In addition, the department has spent $100,707 for food as well as lodging, equipment and supplies the past two weeks.

“We know that’s a big dollar amount,” Loftis said. “This is money we had to spend. We feel the presence that you have seen … has contributed to the peace and calm you’ve seen the last 13 days.”

Costs for the state Department of Enterprise Services are $33,000 thus far, including $14,000 for the fencing.

It will be a couple weeks before the tab for the Washington National Guard is known, said Karina Shagren, spokeswoman for the Washington Military Department. But she said to expect the figure to be greater than the State Patrol personnel costs.

In the meantime, authorities said, there is no timeline for removing the fence and reducing law enforcement presence.

Inslee’s order activating the National Guard is set to expire at midnight Friday but could be extended.

If the calm of Wednesday continues, Loftis said, then hopefully “we will be able to announce soon a drawing down of resources.”

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Jerry Cornfield

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Jerry Cornfield