Security breach prompts new safety measures in Florida Legislature
it's going to be a busy day at The Capitol. Image via The Workmans.

Capitol Workmans
A man posing as a construction worker was arrested for trespassing on Oct. 17.

A security breach at the Florida Capitol Complex has House leadership stepping up protection measures. The Florida Senate will also establish stricter protocols.

House Speaker Paul Renner sent an email to all House members alerting them that an individual briefly gained access to the North Loading Zone.

“He did so by impersonating a construction worker. The foreman on site immediately contacted Capitol Police and he was removed from the construction area,” Renner wrote. “He never entered the capitol building. Nevertheless, this individual was subsequently arrested for trespass because he entered a restricted construction zone without authorization.”

While the individual was arrested, the security breach sounded alarms in the Florida House. Renner said he has been in communication with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) since the Oct 17 incident, along with the Capitol Police and the House Sergeant at Arms.

“They are immediately instituting enhanced security measures in and around the Capitol Complex,” Renner spoke. “While there are no known, specific threats at this time, these new security measures will be in effect when we return for special session and throughout committee weeks and session.”

Following the incident, Renner said the House will implement new measures and will offer training to all members and staff.

“In the meantime, I would ask that everyone remember a few basic steps we should all take to keep everyone safe,” Renner wrote.

Should any law enforcement ask staff or lawmakers to show a badge, Renner asks that individuals do so.

“Similarly, do not allow anyone without a badge to enter the Capitol without going through a security checkpoint,” he wrote. “We don’t know what we don’t know about their possible intentions.”

Finally, he stressed that if anyone working in the House sees something, they should say something. The memo includes numbers for FDLE’s Capitol office and for the Sergeant at Arms.

“If you see something that does not look right, advise someone in our Sergeant’s office or a member of Capital Police immediately,” Renner wrote.

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo has since sent out a memo to Senators as well. She confirmed the breach of security and reiterated the same series of events details in Renner’s memo. She voiced strong confidence in Senate Sergeant at Arms Damien Kelly. She also confirmed new security protocols will be in place through the upcoming regular Legislative Session, in addition to the coming Special Session.

“The incident was immediately reported to Sergeant Kelly who initiated enhanced security measures in our Senate areas of the Capitol Complex,” Passidomo wrote. “While there are no known, specific threats at this time, these new security measures will be remain in effect when we return for special session and throughout committee weeks and session.”

She said Senators and staff should strictly adhere to new security guidelines. That means no allowing anyone without proper credentials into the building without going through a security station.

“I would remind everyone that it is important to have your Capitol credential with you at all times. If Capitol Police request to see your credential, you should display your badge,” she wrote.

“While I appreciate the desire to be polite, holding a door open and allowing others to follow you into the building is not acceptable and could be dangerous, particularly if the person is unknown to you. Don’t do it! Do not allow anyone without a badge to enter the Capitol without going through a security checkpoint. As always, if you see something that does not look right, advise the Sergeant’s Office or Capitol Police immediately.”

She set out to assure the security breach is not a sign the Capitol is unsafe.

“I have great confidence in our Sergeant and the team he has assembled here in the Senate, as well as Capitol Police and FDLE,” Passidomo wrote.

“I often come to the Capitol early in the morning and stay late into the evening, and I feel safe here. With that being said, safety is the responsibility of everyone who works and visits the Capitol. We all have an important role to play in keeping our Capitol safe to conduct our work for the people of our great state.”

Capitol Security by Jacob Ogles on Scribd

10.27.23 MEMO Capitol Complex Security by Jacob Ogles on Scribd

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • PeterH

    October 27, 2023 at 3:48 pm

    Maybe members of the Florida House should be carrying AR-15’s within their workplace.

    • Mickeydee

      October 27, 2023 at 4:23 pm

      This is silly..
      What did the guy do? It doesn’t say he was there to hurt someone. He could have just been trying to drop something off and coujd figurre out any other way….all innocent….who knows. I doubt this is anything serious.

      • Nutley B. Xavier.

        October 28, 2023 at 11:00 pm

        I’d rather be safe than sorry, once a nutcase he can gain access all types of things can happen.
        Then again, would we really miss any of these people?

  • Andy

    October 31, 2023 at 9:54 am

    So the common sense leadership of our State Government, allows anyone to carry and use a gun anywhere except the Statehouse? Kind of hypocritical, isn’t it?

    • David Andress

      October 31, 2023 at 11:34 am

      Exactly! The legislature should have the same protections they have failed to impose on other public places….

Comments are closed.


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