Maryland’s state government is spending more than $300,000 to beef up security at the State House complex in Annapolis, but officials aren’t saying how the money is being used.

Members of the state’s Board of Public Works signed off on spending the money at a Wednesday meeting with no discussion of the details.

Atif Chaudhry, the state’s secretary of general services, whose department oversees state buildings, declined to answer questions from a reporter following the meeting.

Chaudhry referred questions to his spokesperson, who also declined to answer, writing in an email that secrecy was necessary “to ensure the safety of the occupants” of the complex.

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The only hint at the security upgrades came on the agenda for the Board of Public Works meeting, which noted: “Based on assessments performed by the Department of General Services (DGS), Maryland Capitol Police, and third-party law enforcement agencies, DGS requires security enhancements to state-owned buildings within the complex.”

The State House was locked down for two hours in late February, when a man called police saying he had a gun and was headed to the complex to shoot people. Experts said the incident had all the hallmarks of “swatting,” when an individual makes a bogus threat for the purpose of inciting fear and drawing a large police and emergency response.

Maryland State Police and Capitol Police vehicles block access to State Circle in Annapolis during a security lockdown on Feb. 29, 2024.
Maryland State Police and Capitol Police vehicles block access to State Circle in Annapolis during a security lockdown on Feb. 29, 2024. (Rick Hutzell)

The State House also has been the subject of other shooting threats and bomb threats.

An after-action report from the February shooting threat and lockdown recommended more training exercises, better communication between responding agencies and using “mass alert and notifications processes” to alert people in the complex of a crisis.

Leaders of the Maryland General Assembly had already contracted with a company to provide emergency text alerts; the system was activated in the weeks after the February shooting threat. The alert system sent out notifications on May 14, when the State House was evacuated for a bomb threat.

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The State House, which was completed in 1779, is home to offices of the governor and lieutenant governor, the legislative chambers for the House of Delegates and the state Senate, as well as other assorted offices. Other buildings in the complex have offices and hearing rooms for lawmakers and employees from various state agencies.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Atif Chaudhry’s surname.

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