November 28, 2021

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Law enforcement working to ‘disrupt and dismantle’ any Florida Capitol threat

Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have the manpower and equipment in place to contend with any violence that might break out at the Florida Capitol over coming days, according to U.S. Attorney Larry Keefe

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Keefe, in a Wednesday interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, said there is no specific threat against the Capitol “at this time.” However, he said he is “very concerned” about warnings from the FBI of possible violence at all 50 state capitols heading into Inauguration Day on Jan. 20.



a man wearing a suit and tie: U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Larry Keefe speaks at an Operation Stolen Innocence press conference at the Tallahassee Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.


© Alicia
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Larry Keefe speaks at an Operation Stolen Innocence press conference at the Tallahassee Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020.

“In fact, I don’t know a single law enforcement professional at the federal, state or local level that has any involvement in any of this right now that isn’t extremely concerned,” he said. “But the key is there’s always the hope that the threat doesn’t materialize or happen. I’m comfortable with where the federal, state and local law enforcement personnel and leadership are in terms of preparing for the threat.”



a group of people walking in front of a building: A group of between 100 and 150 supporters of President Donald Trump stand outside the Old Capitol during the Stop the Steal protest in Tallahassee Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.


© Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat
A group of between 100 and 150 supporters of President Donald Trump stand outside the Old Capitol during the Stop the Steal protest in Tallahassee Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

There will be a law enforcement presence around the Capitol over coming days, but Keefe said the extent of it will be directly related to intelligence gathered by law enforcement. 

“Law enforcement … has the personnel, has the equipment, is positioned to adapt to whatever the level of the threat is and is appropriate for the circumstance,” Keefe said. “And that can vary day to day, hour to hour.”

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He said the goal is to stop any kind of an attack before it can be carried out.

“In counter-terrorism, it is the role and function particularly of federal law enforcement … to in a constitutionally compliant way, identify threats before they materialize and before the violence happens, to do everything you can constitutionally compliantly to identify, detect, disrupt and dismantle it before an event were to happen.”

Keefe said he is not advising people to avoid the Capitol at this time, though that’s subject to change. Earlier this week, state Senate President Wilton Simpson and others advised staffers to avoid the Capitol on Sunday, a date flagged by the FBI for possible violence at statehouses.

“Everybody needs to stay informed, to be apprised and to make appropriate decisions for themselves,” he said. “If there comes a time from a federal standpoint … that it’s important that the threat level be heightened and there be an expression not to go to a particular area, then I have full faith and confidence that that communication will happen.”

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Keefe, who has a residence in downtown Tallahassee, said his family is planning to visit this weekend.

“I feel comfortable and I feel safe for myself and my family based on all the things that I know about what’s going on with federal, state and local law enforcement, the level of preparation, the level of intelligence collection that is going on to really understand what threat exists at any point in time,” he said.

The Capitol has seen repeated “Stop the Steal” protests since Election Day, though the gatherings have been peaceful. The city has not issued any permits for protests through Inauguration Day, though here’s “chatter” about possible protests on Sunday.

Keefe said federal, state and local law enforcement agencies are talking continuously.

“Everybody’s on a heightened state of alert,” he said. “Everybody has each other on speed dial. There are literally 24/7 command posts of constant communication. There’s no lack of communication. And the key is sustaining that.”

He noted that there is no official date for when the threat will begin or end.

“So we’re also making certain that we have the stamina, the resources and we’re in a posture to continue as long as its needed even beyond Inauguration Day if that’s the case.”

Check back with Tallahassee.com for more on this story.

Contact Jeff Burlew at [email protected] or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: U.S. Attorney: Law enforcement working to ‘disrupt and dismantle’ any Florida Capitol threat

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