Audit Finds Troopers Lax In Monitoring Access To Capitol

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The North Dakota Highway Patrol says it is working to improve security measures after an audit released Tuesday found key card access to the building hasn’t been adequately monitored.

The audit found that 13 state employees who had been terminated still had active access cards. The audit also found 28 active access cards for contractors who had completed work but had not had their cards disabled.

North Dakota Auditor Joshua Gallion said in a press release that contractor access cards are supposed to expire a year from finishing a contract, though some contractors were given up to 78 years of key card access.

The audit covered a two-year period that ended June 30. The audit said employees and contractors used access cards more than 735,000 times during the audit period. More than 175,000 visitors also entered the building during that period, the audit said.

“The most important resource on the Capitol grounds are the people,” Gallion said. “All employees, visitors, and contractors play a role in making sure the building is properly secured. By taking steps to improve procedures for key card access, the Highway Patrol can better serve the people who come to the State Capitol building.”

Troopers, in a response to the audit, agreed with the findings. The patrol said it will, among other things, “clarify communications to agencies ensuring they notify (security) to deactivate the ID card access of terminated employees in a timely manner.”

Key card access to the Capitol building allows for state employees and contractors to enter the building without first going through Capitol security. While access to the North Dakota Capitol building is open to the public, all visitors are required to pass through a security screening including a metal detector when entering the building.

Security at the North Dakota Capitol was beefed up in 2016 due to protests involving the Dakota Access pipeline, the four-state, $3.8 billion pipeline that lawmakers said put a burden on law enforcement and the Highway Patrol, which provides security for the governor and the Capitol.

After the pipeline protest, the Highway Patrol pushed for the increased security measures to remain in place, including metal detectors and more troopers patrolling in and around the building. Troopers, both in uniform and plainclothes, also routinely can be seen with Gov. Doug Burgum at events across the state and at the Capitol, something that was rare or nonexistent in previous administrations.