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April 17, 2014

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Under Sandoval’s watch, capitol gets increased security

An emergency preparedness exercise will be conducted at the state Capitol Wednesday in which there will be a simulated shooting of a police officer.

The capitol will be closed during the exercise and officers from the Nevada Highway Patrol and deputies from the Carson City Sheriff's Office will surround the building.

This is the first time such an exercise has been conducted and it's one of the increased security measures in the capitol installed during the administration of Gov. Brian Sandoval.

"We want to be prepared," said the governor. "I want the employees in the state capitol to be prepared in any kind of event. It's very prudent to train our employees and make sure they are as safe as they can be."

The governor said he is not aware of any threats to him or his family since he took office two years ago.

The capitol is now closed on weekends to tourists and visitors. In the past there was one capitol police officer stationed and tourists were allowed in to wander through the building when the offices were closed. There were few reported minor incidents.

Now the capitol is closed especially during the tourist season, and one officer still guards the locked-down building.

"I will visit with the capitol police with regard to that decision. I don't know if that has to do with budget or if that has to do with security," the governor said. He said he will talk to the police "about the operating hours of the state capitol."

Thomas Navin, chief of the capitol police, said this building has less security than other capitols in the nation. And he said he is short of staff.

During this administration, state employees, except for the governor, are prohibited leaving by the side doors of the capitol. There are cameras at both exits.

All employees must now have a key card to enter their offices.

Recently a security check point was established to clear those attending the meetings of the state Board of Examiners and the state Board of Finance on the second floor of the capitol.

The governor acknowledged there were no threats made in the past at these meetings of state elected officials. There may have been some nasty comments but nothing threatening.

Navin said his duty is to protect the employees and the public. He said officers observe only a few visitors come to the closed doors of the capitol during the weekend and holidays. He used additional officers to keep the building open during the three-day Nevada Day celebration.

Sandoval, like his predecessor Jim Gibbons, has a driver-body guard to accompany him around the state. Asked why he took this body guard with him on his China trip, he replied, "I was provided a confidential briefing with regard to my security."

Asked if he was afraid for his life on the industrial development trip, he said "I was provided a briefing by public safety in regard to traveling in China and it was recommended that I have somebody with me."

Sandoval noted that the doors to the governor's office are open during the regular working hours Monday through Friday.

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