FORT WORTH (CBS11) – When protesters and threats interrupted the last day of the legislative session in Austin this spring, Republican State Representative Stephanie Klick said she couldn’t tell just how dangerous the situation might become.
As she watched someone shove a Department of Public Safety officer, the weight of the moment grew.
“We didn’t know what was going to happen next,” she said.
Though far from the national spotlight, Klick said she and other legislators from both parties, have been forced to consider their safety.
After a late night in the Capitol, someone followed her back to her Austin apartment. She has stopped using social media to post in advance of an event in a particular location. Even her personal communication with friends and family has had to change.
“It’s been recommended that I not post pictures of my grandchildren on social media,” she said. “And that’s really hard as a grandmother who is very proud of your grandkids.”
Klick said personal security detail from DPS is made available to legislators if there are specific threats, or when traveling to certain areas in groups.
Personal protection expert Tegan Broadwater, at the firm Tactical Systems Network in Fort Worth, said the cost for a constant personal detail would be extraordinary.
A combination of personal protection though, and location-based security, he said is reasonable.
“Lock the place down where you have control over the environment, you’re aware of who’s there and who’s not,” he said. “But you’re not paying attention to the individual members, you’re paying attention to the facility, its security.”
In the legislative session that just ended, SB42 provided more security for Texas courts, including the creation of court security committee, money for training and protecting judge’s personal information.
Klick said going forward the legislature will have to continuously evaluate whether more is needed.