A security fence is being constructed at the governor’s mansion at Cedar Crest to protect the home at a time of increasing public turmoil.
Will Lawrence, governor Laura Kelly’s chief of staff, said Kansas was just among a handful of states without fencing around the governor’s mansion.
He also said that the governor’s mansion had increasingly become a focal point on social media as an area to conduct protests.
“The climate of civil unrest and threats toward governors in general, and Gov. Kelly specifically, greatly influenced the recommendation of the Highway Patrol and security detail to make these improvements,” Lawrence said in a statement.
The fencing cost $217,000, including landscaping, demolition work and other general contractor work.
Lawrence said the Department of Administration and Kansas Historical Society had been involved in all of the discussions and planning for the security enhancements.
He said the governor directed that the current gate remain part of the Cedar Crest property in some fashion.
A spokesman for the Department of Administration said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security did a security assessment of the property about six months ago.
The agency recommended that a fence be added.
Fencing protecting governor’s mansions across the country is not unusual and some fences have been constructed in recent months to address heightened security concerns.
In April, public safety officials in Iowa announced they were constructing an iron fence circling Terrace Hill, the Des Moines mansion that serves as the governor’s home.
They said that Iowa was one of the few U.S. states without security fencing around the governor’s residence. The fence cost about $400,000.
They said repeated threats against elected officials, including Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, have been widespread and were a cause for concern.
Officials there specifically cited as a safety threat last year’s failed plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who had come under severe criticism for her efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Associated Press reported that there had been talks about beefing up security at the Iowa governor’s mansion as early as 2005 when former Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack’s car was stolen from the property.
An Iowa man recently pled guilty to second-degree harassment after telling Reynolds in a voicemail she should be hung or shot “for treason” for imposing COVID-19 restrictions.
Last year, it was announced that $400,000 had been budgeted for building a fence around Republican Gov. Kristi Noem’s residence in Pierre, South Dakota.
A fence surrounding the Kentucky governor’s mansion was installed after protesters hung Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in effigy and then went to his front porch.
Oklahoma lawmakers are spending $8 million on security upgrades for the state Capitol, including $2 million for the governor’s mansion.
The money for governor’s mansion is earmarked for security infrastructure improvements.
In some cases, fencing hasn’t proven to be an effective security measure.
Earlier this year, protesters, including some who were armed, stormed through a gate at the governor’s mansion in Washington and gathered on the lawn.
Kansas City radio talk show host Pete Mundo talked up the fence on social media, stirring a buzz that started gaining traction Thursday morning.
Mundo asked Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt about it during his morning show.
Schmidt, a candidate for governor, said he had been shown pictures of the fence under construction a week or so ago.
“I just sort of raised an eyebrow,” Schmidt told Mundo. “I don’t know what the safety or security rationale is. I don’t know who made the decision. It was a surprise to me. I didn’t know it was happening.
“It’s not obvious to me what the necessity is. I’ll let others sort of fight the rhetorical battle on that. I just don’t know.”
Former Gov. Jeff Colyer, also a Republican candidate for governor, offered his thoughts on the fencing.
“Twelve other governors have lived in Cedar Crest without a need for this new construction,” he said in a statement.
“It’s hard for the public to swallow an advocate for Biden’s open borders policy insisting on a security fence,” he said.
Meanwhile, House Majority Dan Hawkins issued this statement on Facebook, demanding an explantion for the fence.
“When President Trump talked about building the wall on the southern border he was viciously criticized by the left. We heard everything from walls aren’t effective to walls are inhumane,” Hawkins said.
“Apparently not all walls are inappropriate as it was reported this week that a wall has been built around the Kansas Governor’s mansion. I have no issue with Governor Kelly’s wall if it is needed for security purposes but it’s a bit ironic.”
“Before construction of this wall continues the governor owes the legislature and the people of Kansas an explanation of why it is necessary.”