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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

State patrol spent $1.6 million so far on capitol security leading up to Inauguration Day

Washington National Guard members walk in formation along a perimeter fence near the Legislative Building, Wednesday, at the Capitol in Olympia.  (Ted S. Warren)

OLYMPIA – Inauguration Day remained peaceful at the Washington State Capitol Campus despite worrying security concerns brought on by insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and a breach on the governor’s mansion property in Olympia two weeks ago.

Only a handful of individual protesters roamed the campus at various times throughout the day, but a drawdown of Washington National Guardsmen and state troopers might still take some time.

“Just because we don’t have any specific threats on any given day doesn’t mean there isn’t concern for dangers out there,” Washington State Patrol spokesperson Chris Loftis told reporters Wednesday.

Loftis said he expects to see a gradual drawdown of troopers and guardsmen over the next few days. He said he does not know what the longterm security plans will be .

“It’s going to be a process, not an event,” he said.

In the meantime, the cost to keep the campus secure isn’t cheap.

Over the last 13 days, the State Patrol has spent more than $1.6 million, including $1,507,450 on labor costs and an additional $100,707 on food, supplies, equipment and lodging for troopers.

The cost for the Department of Enterprise Services, which is in charge of the Capitol grounds, is currently at $33,304, including a one-time $14,000 fee for the fencing surrounding the campus.

The cost of deploying the Washington National Guard, which has been activated since Jan. 10, might not be known for a few weeks, spokesperson Karina Shagren said. Early estimates show it will likely be more than the State Patrol’s costs.

“It’s going to be an expensive bill,” she said.

Loftis said he believes the presence of the State Patrol and the National Guard has contributed to the calm on the Capitol campus.

“How much money would we, as a country, be willing to spend to go back to Jan. 6 and take that assault on our nation’s Capitol out of our history books?” Loftis said. “How much would you spend to be able to get the six lives that were taken from us back to their families?”

After the events of Jan. 6, Gov. Jay Inslee activated 750 members of the Washington National Guard before the opening of the Legislature. Fencing was put up around the Capitol grounds, and strict security protocols were put in place to get into the Legislative Building.

Loftis said he couldn’t say exactly how many National Guard members were actually on the campus at one time for tactical reasons, but he said at any given time the number was “in the hundreds.”

Two arrests were made on the Legislature’s opening day Jan. 11, which only brought about three dozen protesters to the state Capitol campus. One woman attempted to use her RV to block a roadway and refused to comply with orders, and a man attempted to cross an opening in the fence that was secured with a double line of troopers.

The man, Thomas Hughes of Everett, was also charged with criminal trespassing after breaching the gate to the governor’s mansion on Jan. 6. Another man, Damon Huseman of Seattle, was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree assault, felony harassment and criminal trespassing in connection with the Jan. 6 events in Olympia.

Laurel Demkovich's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.