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Gov. Herbert asks for Capitol security review after incident

Published October 24, 2013 3:06 pm

Utah Capitol • Investigators say man who drove up stairs talked about the legalization of pot.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gov. Gary Herbert said Thursday that he has asked for a review of security at the Utah Capitol after a man drove his truck up the front steps and tried to enter the old Supreme Court chambers.

Herbert said there is never an absolute guarantee of security and people should be able to come and go from the Capitol, but given the ease with which the Layton man accessed the building, he has asked for the review to see if additional safety measures are needed.

"I am concerned about it as someone in a government position who tends to be a target on occasion," Herbert said. "These are people, mostly unstable, who use government as a target."

A 36-year-old Layton man drove his truck up the steps of the Capitol on Tuesday, walked to the Supreme Court chamber — which hasn't been used by the court regularly since 1997 — and began pulling on the doors and kicking them.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers, who provide security for the Capitol, tried to use a stun gun on the man, but it didn't work because of his loose clothing, so they forced him to the ground.

UHP Lt. John Mitchell, head of the uniformed security at the Capitol, said troopers are still in the early stages of writing reports and their after-action analysis, where they will look for any possible fixes in the response to the incident.

"Our Capitol is so beautiful here, it's so open. We don't want to have to build a Fort Knox here," Mitchell said. "So that is the challenge, not to build a Fort Knox, but in the same breath make it as secure as possible for those who come to visit, for those who work here, for those who want to have access to where they want to have access."

The Layton man on Thursday had not been booked into jail because he was undergoing psychological and medical evaluations at a local hospital, according to the Department of Public Safety.

Troopers, however, said the man claimed he was trying to make a political statement for the legalization of marijuana.

"He made a comment to one of our agents after the incident at the Capitol that he was in support of the legalization of marijuana," Capt. Tyler Kotter of the Utah State Bureau of Investigation said Wednesday.

Police said the man could possibly face charges such as criminal mischief, assault on officer and impairment for the Capitol incident.

He could also face drug charges.

When investigators searched the man's home, they allegedly found a marijuana grow in the basement, Kotter confirmed. They seized "multiple" plants, he said, and a hazardous-material crew cleaned the home, which is standard procedure whenever law officers find a drug lab in a home.

Kotter said Thursday that investigators hope to screen possible charges with the Salt Lake County and Davis County district attorneys' offices next week.

The man's prior criminal history in Utah is minor: a few traffic violations and a charge of unlawful purchase, possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor when he was 18, according to a search of court records.

— Tribune reporter Janelle Stecklein contributed to this story.

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke