Former Indiana congressmen explain Capitol emergency protocols, react to protest and riot

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Protesters forced a police lockdown of Capitol Hill after entering the building where Congress was meeting Wednesday afternoon. It’s something that former Indiana politicians say is not an easy feat to pull off.

“These protests broke through four layers, from what I understand, of security,” said former Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly (D). “There are gates and security systems set up far away from the Capitol, and then there’s another one, and then there’s another one, and they broke through all of those.”

Not only that, but each entrance has security stationed at it.

“There is security supposedly at every entrance and every tunnel and also in each of the House office buildings that connect and the Library of Congress, all of which connect by tunnel,” said former Representative Mark Souder (R-Dist. 3).

According to Souder, once people have made it past these security measures anyone inside has fewer options when it comes to their safety.

“Once the security perimeters are breached, there’s not just a whole lot of planning that you can do,” said Souder. “Now, that isn’t to say we don’t have manuals, that they don’t have some briefings, and that type of thing and each one of these incidents lead to a new set of guidelines. But when things like this happen instantaneously and you’re on the house floor, you’re pretty well trapped. And that’s why it’s so abominable what these people are doing.”

However, there are some safety measures put in place inside the chambers for when this does happen.

“Congressmen do have gas masks inside the chamber,” said former Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-Dist. 3). “There’s also, you can use the seats as a flak protector to protect your self in case of any shots being fired.”

Souder said that he expects there to be some changes to security going forward because in his experience, that is what has been down in the past.

“Years and years ago, even before I was a staffer for Dan Coats, some Puerto Rican independence people had set something off in the gallery and that caused some changes,” said Souder. “I was there when they had the shootout at the entrance and was involved in some of the oversight of trying to improve Capitol Police response so we didn’t have anymore killings and that was a whole other thing that changed the types of bullets in guns and so on. So, I know there’s lots of different layers of security, different things at different doors, different risks.”

He added that because of all of those layers of security, it is typically not assumed that the problem is going to reach the House floor.

Donnelly had harsh words for those who made it into the building, and expects to see them to face the fullest extent law.

“We have terrorists storming our Capitol,” said Donnelly. “We’re going to take it back. We’re going to arrest these people, we’re going to clear them out, and they will not stop the work of the government of the United States.”

Stutzman also advised politicians should also take this as a sign that things need to change in Washington D.C.

“I think that we’re seeing the frustration with the American people that they don’t trust our government and they don’t trust the electoral process right now and our leaders in both parties better understand that we better get a hold of this quickly so that way no one is injured or even worse, killed.”

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