A Capitol Idea
Barriers and bollards secure California’s state building
California’s historic State Capitol building, completed in
Sacramento in 1874, has seen its share of serious security
episodes during its colorful existence. In 1927, a lobbyist
shot and murdered a secretary on the fourth floor. In
1967, the capitol was occupied by armed Black Panthers, and a gunman
once took a hostage in its bill room. A female follower of Charles
Manson attempted to assassinate then-President Gerald Ford on its
east steps. And, a mentally unstable man with a rifle once drove into
the capitol’s basement parking lot, demanding to see the governor.
For most of this four-story capitol’s early history, it was protected
by a granite and cast-iron fence. However, the fence was removed
during extensive renovations in 1949 and the capitol building became
a symbol of a freely accessible and open government.
Events Change Things
Following the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995, legislators
began to discuss, in earnest, erecting a security fence around
California’s capitol building. Whatever misgivings state legislators
may have had about the lack of security were soon overshadowed by
However, the security mood in Sacramento changed again in
2001, when a suicidal trucker crashed into the south entrance of the
capitol in January. Afterwards, all resistance to a security fence faded
after the attacks of 9/11 later that same year. Every one of the country’s
50 state capitals responded to Sept. 11, 2001 by adding security
measures to their statehouses.
Nobody had to convince the man in charge of security at California’s
Capitol of the need for a security fence. Chief Sergeant-at-Arms
Tony Beard had been quietly lobbying for such a solution for decades.
Beard, whose father and grandfather both spent most of their
working lives helping to secure the state capitol, first worked in special
services for the Senate at age 17. At 29, he was the youngest person
ever elected Senate chief and now supervises a staff of more than
100 people, including 16 sworn officers.
Needless to say, Beard was thrilled to oversee a $6.8 million security
overhaul of the capitol’s perimeter, which consists of a series of
three-foot-tall concrete planters and security posts, and retractable
bollards that are linked by inch-thick cable.
Perimeter Security Enhanced Aesthetically
The planter barriers and bollards are designed to complement both
the capitol architecture and lush landscaping. In addition, decorative
security bollards, which are normally kept in the “up” position and
lowered to let authorized vehicles through, are placed in high traffic
areas. They sport the state seal on top.
The decorative bollard protecting the capitol is Delta Scientific’s
highest crash rated bollard, the DSC720. It will stop and destroy a
15,000-pound vehicle going 50 mph. It is the same bollard that protects
federal and DOD facilities, U.S. and British embassies, and other
high profile, high-risk locales. They meet or exceed Department of
State and Department of Defense certifications, having been tested to
the highest standards for repelling terrorist attacks.
“Fortunately, we didn’t have to choose between security and aesthetics,”
Beard said. “The Delta barriers and bollards we have chosen
to protect the capitol’s perimeter are designed to blend in with their
surroundings. But they’re also designed to do the job, which means
stopping a truck dead in its tracks.”
Delta’s bollard systems operate individually or in groups of up to
ten. Individual bollards are up to 13.25 inches in diameter, up to 35
inches high and are usually mounted on 3-foot centers. Hydraulic
and pneumatic versions can be operated by a variety of control systems.
Manual versions are counter balanced and lock in the up or
For Beard, Delta’s bollards mean he doesn’t have to choose between
preserving the capitol building’s stately, historic beauty, and
protecting it from those who would do it harm.
“I believe this is a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said
Beard. “It’s a balance between preserving the historical aspects of the
building—and all that it symbolizes—and on a more practical level,
protecting the people who actually work and visit the capitol on a
This article originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of Security Today.