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Trooper posted at governor's office not related to any threat: Highway Patrol

BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Highway Patrol posted an armed trooper at a desk right outside the governor's office Friday, but a spokesman said the decision to do so was made in mid-November and is not a response to the nation's recent string of m...

BISMARCK - The North Dakota Highway Patrol posted an armed trooper at a desk right outside the governor's office Friday, but a spokesman said the decision to do so was made in mid-November and is not a response to the nation's recent string of mass shootings.

Lt. Tom Iverson said the patrol converted one of its seven civilian Capitol security staff positions to a sworn trooper position last month.

"It's just part of our ongoing enhancements, looking at different areas around the building to post a trooper or to increase our visibility," he said.

The trooper is stationed outside the governor's office in Memorial Hall-one of two major public hallways in the Capitol's Legislative Wing-and is just above the ground-floor Capitol security office staffed by a sergeant and another trooper.

Memorial Hall also provides public access to the Senate and House chambers and the attorney general's office across from the governor's office.

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"It's kind of a heavily traveled area," Iverson said.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Jack Dalrymple said the governor did not request the trooper posted outside his office. But the governor's staff and Facility Management have been involved in ongoing discussions about how to improve security not only for Capitol employees but also the visiting public, spokeswoman Jody Link said.

"We want to keep it as open as possible, but yet we need to be sure that we're keeping everybody safe, as well," she said.

The Capitol's public entrances don't have armed guards or metal detectors. For security reasons, Iverson declined to discuss whether any additional security measures are planned by the Highway Patrol, which is headquartered in the Capitol's Judicial Wing.

House lawmakers narrowly defeated a bill in February that would have allowed lawmakers and some other public officials to pack heat in the state Capitol and other public buildings if they have a concealed weapons permit.

Iverson said the recent string of mass shootings, including Wednesday's attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 people and wounded 21 others, did not prompt the additional trooper on the first floor. It also wasn't done to protect the Capitol's new 26-foot, $13,000 artificial Christmas tree, as some have jokingly suggested, he said.

"We're always looking at ways to improve on our security, and this is one we've identified," he said.

The change comes at no additional cost to the patrol, he said.

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