Amid increasing threats and recent shutdowns, Illinois lawmakers seek to bolster Capitol security

Amid increasing threats and recent shutdowns, Illinois lawmakers seek to bolster Capitol security

With the Illinois State Capitol complex forced to close and evacuate at least three different times in recent months, and a recent vehicle break-in while lawmakers were in session, some are calling for additional security.

Last Thursday, state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, urged the Secretary of State to install emergency blue phones and cameras around campus.

“So when our staff leaves at two or three in the morning with a cell phone turned off and something happens on campus grounds, they have nowhere to go for help,” he said.

The next day, Cabello informed the House floor in full session that someone had just been arrested for breaking into vehicles.

“The Secretary of State needs to put cameras in for our safety, for your safety, for the safety of your families and anyone who visits this campus, do it and do it quickly,” he said.

Alicia M. Jones was arrested for motor vehicle theft, criminal trespass to a vehicle, and theft of property.

State Rep. CD Davidsmeyer, R-Murrayville, urged his colleagues to be vigilant.

“I want everyone to know that this person will probably be leaving in a couple of hours, so make sure you lock your cars now before he leaves,” Davidsmeyer said.

Jones was later released from the Sangamon County Jail.

The Capitol Complex was forced to close and evacuate on at least three separate occasions over the past few months. State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, understands the safety concerns.

“I know there have been some bomb threats, but I think the Capitol staff handled them very well,” McClure told The Center Square.

Earlier this month, Illinois State Police charged Gabrielle Williams, 23, with making bomb threats to two state buildings in April.

“I want to thank our Secretary of State Police, the Illinois State Police and the Springfield Police for assisting in this investigation and making an arrest,” said Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias. “We take the security of the Capitol Complex and the safety of its employees, public officials and visitors very seriously. “We will never tolerate threats of violence and will do everything in our power to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.”

Glenn Minnis contributed to this report.