Court Security

Sheriff sends undercover officer to courthouse with gun; she makes it through 6 checkpoints

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Saying that he was unable to arrange a meeting with a Wisconsin county executive to discuss court security in the wake of safety concerns raised by a high-profile courthouse shooting in Delaware last month, the Milwaukee County sheriff tried a different approach.

Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. sent a female undercover officer, in civilian attire and armed, to the Milwaukee County courthouse complex on Wednesday for an “integrity check,” reports the Journal Sentinel.

The result, Clarke announced in a press release, was that the officer cleared six courthouse security checkpoints. Although the gun tucked into the woman’s waistband did set off a metal detector at the courthouse entrance, security officials let her go when she pointed to a metal belt buckle as the apparent cause, according to the sheriff.

“The security check has become an exercise in going through the motions,” Clarke said in the release, blaming “complacency and a lack of a sense of urgency” and “inadequate supervision” the county’s facilities management division. The sheriff said he is now going to post deputies at courthouse checkpoints, using unbudgeted overtime to do so.

County Executive Chris Abele said his office has been trying since Feb. 28 to arrange to meet with Clarke and expressed disappointment that the sheriff addressed security issues in a press release before talking with county officials, the Journal Sentinel reports.

After receiving word of the press release, Abele said, he met with facilities management personnel and “I said I want to know everything we can about this, what can we do to make it better.”

Abele said he also wants to meet with Clarke.

Related coverage: “Son of Del. courthouse shooter faces new probation violation charges related to ammo” “Court security is hot topic after recent litigation-related attacks”

New York Post: “TSA screeners allow fed agent with fake bomb to pass through security at Newark Airport”

Updated on March 8 to link to related New York Post article.

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