ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden is just a couple of days away and many of Georgia’s law enforcement agencies are present at the State Capitol.
They’re making sure legislators, visitors and the capitol building are safe.
“Governor (Brian) Kemp has been working close with the Georgia Department of Public Safety and Georgia State Patrol and also the Georgia National Guard,” said Georgia State Representative Bill Yearta.
Yearta said that there’s always more security when it’s close to the inauguration. However, during these times, there’s a heightened sense of security. He said an eight-foot fence is now being put up around the State Capitol.
Georgia State Representative Winfred Dukes said they’re prepared for the worst.
“We feel very comfortable in the state that whatever transpires that we will have an opportunity to protect not only our citizens but the state’s property,” said Dukes.
Both representatives agree people have a right to protest, but they said what happened at the U.S. Capitol is unacceptable and was a sad day.
“I support peaceful protests and certainly people have the right to do that, but they must be conducted safely and orderly and not destroying property or hurting individuals,” said Yearta.
“It’s the people’s House. We have no problem with people coming and protesting but you have to do it peacefully,” said Dukes.
Representative Dukes said he has hope that Georgians are better than what happened in D.C.
“It is my hope and my desire the people of Georgia would realize that those kinds of behaviors are not acceptable and actually is beneath the good people of Georgia,” said Dukes.
“The GBI is aware of reports of the potential for violence. GISAC (State Fusion Center) is monitoring activity. We are in communication with our partners and will continue to do what is necessary to ensure our Capitol is safe and secure,” said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) said in a statement.
Officials are also working to protect lawmakers and visitors to the Capitol from COVID-19.
At the Georgia Capitol, employees not only must take their temperature before entering the building, but they’re also being tested for COVID-19 two times a week.
Georgia General Assembly members are required to wear masks, wash their hands and social distance.
Dukes said numerous hand-sanitizing stations have been installed in the capitol.
The assembly is also split into three groups to allow proper social distancing.
“Usually the chamber, the capitol is in a buzz and there’s so many people you almost have to push through the hallways. But we have minimized the number of people that are coming and people are just not coming. They are respectful of the fact and understanding that we are in a pandemic,” explained Dukes.
Representative Dukes said he and his colleagues feel comfortable in the Capitol and that the proper measures are being taken.