By Steve Large


SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A state building in Downtown Sacramento now has a “riot button” installed in its elevators and it’s getting the attention of employees who wonder what it does.

The button, with the word “RIOT” spelled out in black and white, has been installed in several elevators inside the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration Building on 5th and N streets in Sacramento.

Employees who work in the building say they never received an explanation of what the mysterious buttons do.

“It’s bizarre,” state worker Tanya Ballard said. “No one knew; they didn’t say anything about them. Just ‘they’re here, don’t touch them.’”

The buttons were added within the past few weeks and Ballard wonders if there is a secret safety concern in her building.

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“Because nobody randomly puts a riot button in there,” she  said. “Somebody, the ‘powers that be,’ know something that we don’t know and they don’t want to alarm us.”

The building is managed by the State Department of General Services. Agency spokesperson Monica Hassan issued a statement reading: “The buttons were installed as part of our overall safety and emergency plan covering a variety of scenarios; including the need to have the elevator not reach the first floor. The wording is in the process of being changed to more effectively reflect the purpose. We apologize for anyone who was distressed by the wording.”

The buttons are supposed to light up to alert riders the elevators won’t go to the first floor if there is a security scare, like a riot.

“They’re taking the labels off because it just freaked everybody out,” state worker Jeff Cross said.

The Department of General Services was unaware of any other state building that has also added the buttons. The spokesperson also said it was not done as a reaction to the Stephon Clark shooting protests, which have been peaceful.

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