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With threats on the rise, Illinois lawmakers look to beef up Capitol security

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(The Center Square) – With the Illinois State Capitol complex forced to lock down and evacuate at least three different times over the last few months, and a recent vehicle break-in when legislators were in session, some are calling for extra security.

Last Thursday, state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park, urged for the Secretary of State to set up cameras and emergency blue phones around campus.

“So that when our staff is leaving at two, three in the morning with a dead cell phone and something happens on the campus grounds, they have no place to go call for help,” he said.

The following day, Cabello reported to the House floor in the middle of the session that someone had just been arrested for breaking into vehicles.

“The Secretary of State needs to put cameras for our safety, for your safety, for your families’ safety and anybody that visits this campus, do it and do it quickly,” he said.

Alicia M. Jones was arrested for motor vehicle burglary, criminal trespass to a vehicle and theft of property.

State Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer, R-Murrayville, urged his colleagues to be vigilant.

“I want everybody to know that this person will probably be out in a couple of hours, so make sure your lock your cars now before they get out,” Davidsmeyer said.

Jones was later released from Sangamon County Jail.

The Capitol Complex was forced to lock down and evacuate on at least three separate occasions over the last few months. State Sen. Steve McClure, R-Springfield, understands the safety concerns.

“I know there’s been some bomb threats called in, but I think that the capitol staff handled them very well,” McClure told The Center Square.

Earlier this month, Illinois State Police charged 23-year-old Gabrielle Williams with making bomb threats to two state buildings in April.

“I want to thank our Secretary of State Police, Illinois State Police, and Springfield Police for collaborating on this investigation and making an arrest,” said Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias. “We take the security of the Capitol Complex and the safety of its employees, public officials, and visitors extremely seriously. We will never tolerate threats of violence and will do everything within our power to hold those responsible and accountable for their actions.”

Glenn Minnis contributed to this report.