McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

October 23, 2012

Commissioners learn about security issues at the courthouse

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER — The Pittsburg County courthouse is a ‘tactical nightmare,’ according Richard Bedford undersheriff for the Pittsburg County Sheriff’s Department.

Bedford went before the Pittsburg County commissioners during their regular meeting on Monday morning at the Pittsburg County courthouse.
Bedford said although the courthouse is ‘aesthetically pleasing,’ there are just too many windows, doorways and halls.
“This building would be a tactical nightmare to secure,” Bedford said.
He said he wanted the commissioners to listen to what he had to say and then at next week’s meeting, possibly vote on allowing a training to prepare employees in case of a security threat, such as what happend last week.
On Thursday several officers spent the night on alert at the courthouse after a Tulsa man, who was scheduled to appear at the courthouse on Friday, allegedly made a threat. 
He said Thursday’s security threat was just a warning and there needs to be a protocol in place for employees and others to know what to do when a dangerous situation such as that one occurs.
“A threat was made a we took precautionary measures,” Bedford said on Friday.
Meanwhile, during Monday’s meeting Bedford said although disaster safety is taught to the employees, he asked the commissioners to consider allowing him to set up a day to help teach the employees what to do in case of this type of an emergency. 
“A real active shooter is not a tornado, it’s different,” Bedford said.
“Here’s the deal, some employees don’t know their way around this courthouse. We need a protocol in place so people know what to do”
And he said the courthouse would not be safe if a gunman should decide to take aim.
District 18 District Attorney Farley Ward agreed with Bedford. 
“It is extremely important that this is dealt with as soon as possible, Ward said.“It would be terrible if something happened that we could have prevented.”
District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith and Commission Chairman Gene Rogers both said that they agreed with Bedford’s statements.
“I think we need to put safety first,” Rogers said.
Bedford said he would try to get something on the agenda for the commissioner’s next meeting.
Also Monday’s meeting was District 3 Commissioner Ronnie Young.
Pittsburg County Commissioners meet every Monday at 9 a.m. in the county commissioner’s conference room at the Pittsburg County courthouse. The meetings are open to the public.
For more on this story, see the print or electronic editions of the McAlester News-Capital. Click here for print edition home delivery or click here to see the Smart Edition for your computer, tablet, e-reader or smartphone. Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.