Tallahassee, FL - State Senator Ronda storms is a lightening rod for conservative issues. Last year, after voting yes on a controversial bill creating merit pay for teachers, she received a threatening voice mail. It wasn’t her first threat.
“The first time it happened to me, I got a concealed weapons permit, and I bought a weapon, and I carry a weapon,” says Storms.
In 1999, then House speaker John Thrasher received a death threat. It came, says Thrasher “Iin the form of a post card and it had some pretty graphic language in it about what they thought they were going to do to me and they know where my children lived. And that was the real scary part”
Visitors to Florida’s Capitol undergo rigorous security checks. Camera’s monitor doorways and hallways. Enter wearing a buttoned up coat and you’ll be asked to open it for inspection. And it you were to walk into this building with a sealed envelope, Capitol police would make you leave the building…open it, and then come back in.
Inside and outside the building, the Governor and Lt Governor are protected 24/7. While somewhat rare, legislators and other state officials are provided with security details when threats are credible.
“You evaluate the level of the threat and then you investigate it”, says Dennis Bustle, Director of Capitol Police.
While it is uncommon for most threats to be acted upon, public officials being threatened has become a part of public service at all levels of government.