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Maryland Senate leader says text alert system in works following Capitol lockdown

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) said the state entered into an agreement with Motorola to implement a text message alert system earlier this week.

The deal was made Monday, just days before police locked down the State House in Annapolis on Thursday afternoon for nearly two hours due to a security threat. Police confirmed to The Hill that an anonymous individual made a call threatening the legislature.

Local, state and Capitol police swept the buildings and determined the areas were secure and “clear of any potential threat.”

Maryland signed a contract this week to create the alert system for the Capitol grounds, but it had not yet been implemented at the time of the lockdown. Ferguson told reporters he had been in discussion with House Speaker Adrienne Jones about setting up the system for some time, ABC News first reported.

“In any situation the most important thing is to clear lines of communication, and I’m incredibly proud of the response that happened, but there were a lot of lessons learned,” Ferguson said.

Reporters who have offices on the ground floor of the State House building were told by an aide to lock their doors shortly after 5 p.m., according to The Associated Press. They were escorted out by police about 30 minutes later.

In his press briefing, Ferguson thanked the police and first responders who made sure that everyone was safe “despite it being a bit of a scary situation.”

“This is the sad reality of what we have to deal with, and we have to be able to respond appropriately,” he said, per the AP. “Law enforcement did a remarkable job. There was never a moment yesterday where I felt unsafe. It was a surreal experience, but I was very confident that plans were in place.”

Bernie Bennett, a public information officer for the Annapolis Police Department, said as of Thursday evening, no suspects have been identified, “nor has any suspicious items been found” in the State House.

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