COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Law enforcement and other public officials want to assure South Carolinians there are safety measures in place ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.
The FBI has warned of the potential for armed protests at all 50 statehouses, as well as the U.S. Capitol. State officials say the South Carolina State House and the surrounding area are secure.
“We have no specific threats to the state of South Carolina in the capital here in Columbia. Everything we have received has been a general threat from the FBI and our law enforcement officials from intel, but that’s all we have and that’s all we’re planning for,” Chief of Bureau of Protective Services Matthew Calhoun said.
Calhoun said measures to increase security on the State House grounds, create a barrier around the building, and coordinate with all relevant agencies are just precautionary.
Ahead of Jan. 20, there are only two planned protests law enforcement agencies are aware of: one on Sunday and on Wednesday, Inauguration Day.
“We are confident with our state, county, and local partnerships, we think we have enough local law enforcement officers to keep everything safe and secure and to be able to respond to whatever incident we may have,” Calhoun added.
To that end, the South Carolina State House will be closed to the public from Jan. 16-20.
In a memo to state senators, Senate President Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) told members to prepare to work from home next week.
“This decision was based on the advice of federal and state law enforcement officials,” he wrote to all senators.
Just blocks from the State House, officials with the University of South Carolina said they are also in close coordination with law enforcement.
“While at this time there are no reports or law enforcement intelligence of threats to our state capitol or to our campus, our Division of Law Enforcement and Safety is coordinating closely with state, local and federal agencies to ensure our campus remains safe. We will share any additional information if specific threats of danger or violence impacting our campus do emerge. In the meantime, we encourage our students, faculty and staff to sign up for Carolina Alerts to receive important safety messages on an ongoing basis,” said UofSC spokesperson Jeffrey Stensland.
In a joint statement, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Department of Public Safety, the Columbia Police Department, and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department wanted to reassure the public they are all monitoring for any potential threats.
“Every preparation is being made to ensure the safety of our citizens,” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said.