Judge Jerry Polaha remembers first seeing this Security Survey and running across the word abysmal on the first page.
" Well it surprised me by the fact that it was recognized by an outside agency. We live it every day."
What Polaha and others knew was spelled out in black and white with pictures, in the March 2005 survey. It showed the deficiencies within the district court that could lead to disaster within a courtroom, hallway, public offices.
Prisoners often ride in same elevators as judges and the general public. There are no security cameras in the hallway or courtrooms. Windows were unsecured..some doors were unalarmed. While changes were made...
The shooting of family court judge Chuck Weller across the street really drove the point home.
Judge Polaha noticed, " When the shooting happened it finally made you realize, I guess this is a reality." I think if you walk down to the court and asked the people that work there, they will say we were tested, as a sheriffs office as a reno police department, as a judicial system when the Mack case occurred." That's the assessment of undersheriff Mike Haley with Washoe County Sheriff's Office.
Haley says awareness was the key to make the district court building more secure, and that didn't cost a dime. Changing personnel shifts, changing locks and doors, and an i-d card system did cost money...but not as much as security cameras and hiring more deputies.
The very nature and age of district court make it tough to implement everything ITS AN HISTORICAL LANDMARK. Security wise,...some say it would be easier to destroy the building and start from scratch. But for now that's not going to happen.
Being aware of problems both actual and potential and addressing them are for now the first line of defense.