The morning after police swarmed Annapolis’ capitol complex in search of a caller who phoned in a violent threat, Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson said Friday that the state had just settled a contract for a text alert system that would have warned those within range to seek safety.

Testing on the system could start as early as this weekend.

The Baltimore City Democrat said he and his legislative partner, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones, had been discussing campus safety in light of the ongoing construction happening around State Circle. Ferguson said the state signed a contract with Motorola on Monday.

“We have been very concerned about having clear lines of communication,” he said.

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Ferguson hopes the text system could alert people with cellphones within a specified area around the State House, also known as geofencing, of threats — a service unavailable Thursday evening as police officers entered the State House with weapons drawn during a lockdown.

“I hate the fact that in a workplace that I have any type of leadership over that there is even the possibility of something like this, that can cause any trauma or pain,” he said during a Friday news conference. “But it is a sad reality that it is possible.”

State employees and journalists who were working in the building around 5 p.m. were told by word of mouth to close their doors and lock them. Several reporters clustered together in the corners of a media office and hid in the dark with little information.

After about 30 minutes, police officers came to evacuate reporters and a legislative staffer who was with them through a hallway lined with police, several of whom had weapons drawn.

The lockdown was lifted two hours later when no threat was found.

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Ferguson, who was in the State House at the time of the threat and was evacuated, said there were “lessons learned” after yesterday’s event.

“Do I wish we had it [the text alert system] yesterday? Of course. We’ve learned an important lesson that we have places where we can improve,” Ferguson said.

“We want to get it right, and we want to have all of the information available and we won’t roll it out until it’s ready,” he said. He hopes something will be in place before the end of the legislative session on April 8.

In the House of Delegates chamber on Friday morning, Jones told colleagues about the anticipated text alert system and said leadership will continue efforts to improve communication and coordination.

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The Baltimore County Democrat offered special praise of the House sergeant-at-arms, Sgt. Bobby Parham, and all the other police officers who responded. Delegates stood and applauded and cheered. At the end of her brief remarks, Jones said: “With that, let’s get back to business.”

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, who was working in his second-floor State House offices when the threat was reported, said his thoughts immediately went to the safety of his family and his team.

”I’m just really thankful that we have the team and the first responders that we have in the state. They are spectacular,” Moore told reporters Friday morning. Moore was taken across the street to the governor’s mansion, where mayors from around the state were gathered for a reception, according to his spokesman, Carter Elliott IV.

The Democratic governor said that there would be a review of how the threat was handled and communications to people throughout the complex.

Many reported being unaware of the scope of the threat while the lockdown was in place.

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”I think after any major incident — and I would include this one in that — I believe in doing after-action reviews and figuring out what went right, what went wrong, what we can improve on,” Moore said. Ferguson said the threat was being investigated and that the response would be reviewed.

The incident began after Annapolis Police Department received a call at about 5 p.m. from an “unknown male subject saying they were approaching the state capitol with a gun,” said Annapolis Police Department spokesman Bernie Bennett.

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Annapolis Police, Maryland Capitol Police and others responded to secure the State House. Police and emergency vehicles ringed the State House and surrounding streets that were shut down. Numerous officers were posted around the State House, governor’s mansion and office buildings in the complex before the lockdown was lifted just before 7 p.m.

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