Incident sparks conversation about security at Utah’s Capitol Hill

Posted at 6:35 PM, Oct 23, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY -- When Gerald Weston Green allegedly decided to turn Utah's Capitol Hill into the Widowmaker hill climb, the Department of Public Safety knew they had a problem to address.

They thought that the steps leading to the Capitol were designed to prevent such a trick.

"Some vehicles will go up those [steps} where we were told they couldn't, so we'll have to look at some of those measures and revamp," said Sgt. Travis Trotta, who supervises the security detail at the State Capitol.

Along with the steep steps, the Capitol is covered by a sophisticated surveillance system monitored from a control room underground.

"Our control room operator was on the ball; she was able to tell us there was a vehicle coming up from the west side," Trotta said.

Those cameras showed the truck park near the governor's office, at which point Green allegedly walked into the Capitol and walked around, gazing into the historic Gold Room and walking to the old Supreme Court Chambers where he appears to try to kick the doors in.

Three troopers approached Green, taking care in case he was holding a weapon or explosives. It turned out he wasn't, and the governor and legislators were out of the building.

"But still, we have 800 or 900 more employees that are up on this complex that need to feel like they have a safe place to work,” Trotta said. “Unfortunately we live in a society where nothing surprises you anymore.”

Additional security measures can only be put in place, according to Public Safety officials, when funded by the legislature and approved by the Capitol Preservation Board.

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