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Security debate at Michigan Capitol continues nearly a year after Jan. 6 riot

Michigan Legislature
Posted at 6:21 AM, Jan 05, 2022

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — The debate over security at our state Capitol rages on nearly a year after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

Now, lawmakers on both sides are making their case again and a counter terrorism expert is weighing in.

“It was a scary time for us at the local and state level and then we saw what happened on Jan. 6 in Washington D.C. The fact we haven’t responded with a full set of policy changes is concerning,” Rep. Darrin Camilleri of Brownstown Township said.

Camilleri told 7 Action News he’s personally received death threats, and while last year’s armed protest both outside and inside the state Capitol led to a ban there on “open carry,” more still needs to be done.

In particular, he adds with some being criminally charged as members of the Wolverine Watchmen Militia Group, who allegedly planned to kidnap and kill the governor.

“If we have metal detectors in courts and police stations, I think it’s appropriate we have metal detectors at the state Capitol as well. It’s not just about people who work there, it’s about people who visit there as well. There are hundreds and hundreds of students who come every month to get a tour of their state Capitol,” Camilleri added.

Sharing a different view, state Rep. Joe Bellino from Monroe says he doesn’t see any need for metal detectors to make sure people haven’t brought guns in.

“You know what people forget is we’ve probably got 300 cameras on the grounds, inside and across the street. We know everyone that’s coming from 200 yards away,” Bellino said.

Bellino also mentioned the cost of adding metal detectors being significant, as it would require a major build out for more space.

“Everyday, we’ve got 35 to 40 people in the Capitol that are law enforcement officers, plus 40 reps and senators carrying a pistol with a permit. The Capitol is as safe as any hospital or mall we go to,” Bellino said.

Also weighing in, is University of Michigan professor Javed Ali, an expert in public policy.

“Why not metal detectors? Why not some other security measures?” he asked.

After having researched the Jan. 6 incident for nearly a year, he believes more security measures would be appropriate.

“I’d argue if you look at lessons learned from Jan. 6 at the Capitol and compared to Michigan, I would argue there needs to be more done,” Ali said.

So far, it’s unknown if the state Capitol Commission will take up the issue again.