Responsibilities of the Sergeant-at-Arms
The Senate Sergeants must face the challenge of public service with a level of dedication not imagined over 150 years ago. As peace officers, we bring a wide range of experience and training to our mission of threat assessment, advance medical response and executive protection training under the auspices of the United States Secret Service.
The Senate Sergeants-at-Arms possess a unique working knowledge of the procedures and traditions of the California Senate and Legislature. While building on a tradition of excellence and meeting the challenges of the future, an abiding spirit of dedication compels the Senate Sergeants to seek new ways of improving our service to the members of the Senate, its staff and the people of the State of California.
Sergeants are assigned to security posts during full sessions of the Senate. Their duties include maintenance of decorum, assistance to members and the visiting public, distribution of bills and analyses, and operation of the sound system. Each Sergeant must be able to recognize important officials as well as staff, media personnel and lobbyists, to determine who may or may not be permitted in the Chamber.
As an additional measure of security, Sergeants supervise the Senate Gallery. No filming of the Senate's procedures is allowed and the visiting public must adhere to the rules of the House.
Upon order of the Senate Rules Committee, Sergeants execute the service of subpoenas statewide to both friendly and hostile witnesses, to ensure appearance before legislative proceedings.
Sergeants are assigned to committee meetings, whether held in the Capitol or elsewhere in the state or nation. They assist in the arrangement and supervision of hearings, record testimony as necessary, and maintain a quorum and enforce committee rules and procedures. During the most contentious of proceedings, they are responsible for the order and decorum necessary to conduct representative government and to ensure the safety of legislators and the public alike.
Working closely with the California Highway Patrol (CHP), the Sergeant-at-Arms' office is responsible for the security of the State Capitol, legislators and staff and the thousands of citizens who visit each year. Security measures include limitations on building access, regular patrol, and maintenance of surveillance and alarm systems.
The Sergeant-at-Arms' office investigates threats against members and staff, as well as other criminal activity occurring within Senate jurisdiction. Once this activity is assessed and when determined necessary, the Sergeants-at-Arms provide executive protection to those affected. The Sergeants also provide dignitary protection for visiting officials from around the world by utilizing security liaison services with the United States Department of State, the United States Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Highway Patrol.
The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms' office will provide security assessments for designated international destinations of all Senate delegations upon request. Should it be necessary, a security escort will also be provided when approved by the Senate Rules Committee.
The Sergeants have been called upon to assist at events featuring the Governor at high profile rallies and marches involving members of the Legislature.
The Senate Sergeant-at-Arms’ office is responsible for helping to maintain workplace safety by investigating all threats to members and staff, taking stalking and domestic violence issues seriously and heeding early warning signs of violence as well as responding to dangerous situations promptly. We are also responsible for educating and training Members and staff on violence prevention, warning signs and responsibilities.
Through a sophisticated computer system, Sergeants key in security information and file investigative reports involving incidents and suspects. They are the first line of responses to any call for assistance, detaining or arresting individuals found to be disruptive or threatening to Senate offices or personnel. They also conduct searchers for possible explosive devices and investigate threats directed at the Capitol and its inhabitants.
In addition to monitoring CHP dispatch, Sergeants must be proficient in radio communications used on a daily basis as well as in emergency situations. They comply with all federal and state regulations, as the Senate's radio communication is linked into the state's emergency network.
Senate Sergeants provide a wide array of services to the Capitol community, from the organization of meals and events to the maintenance of the Senate's employee identification system. Through the office of the Sergeant-at-Arms, building access is regulated through issuance of keys and electronic identification cards. The Sergeant-at-Arms' office conducts training in the Senate's violence prevention policy, domestic violence prevention, dealing with inappropriate contacts and disgruntled citizens and with the Senate Personnel Office's sexual harassment prevention training. Sergeants also provide security assessments for district offices and member residences when requested. With CPR and Advanced First Aid training mandatory for all Sergeants, the office offers health care training and certification of Senate and Assembly personnel and dispenses on-call emergency medical treatment for injury and illness. Currently, there is one certified EMT on staff.
Ongoing training is a regular part of the Sergeants' job responsibilities. Each Sergeant must pass certified courses on Arrest, Search and Seizure, Firearm Safety, Weaponless Defensive Tactics, Advanced First Aid, CPR, Disaster Planning, Terrorism, Background Investigation, Fire Suppression and Protection of Public Officials. Dedication to the fundamental mission of the Sergeant-at-Arms is never enough; there exists an additional commitment to professionalism in service that the public interest demands.
Sergeants are responsible for emergency planning in the Capitol Complex, assisting in the formation of emergency response protocols and conducting evacuations of the Capitol and office buildings in the event of natural disasters, fire or security threats. They receive ongoing training in evacuation procedures and assign and maintain emergency equipment distributed to Senate Floor monitors. In an emergency, their key mission is to provide for the continuity of state government.