Tahoe authorities ready for court emergencies
Tahoe law agencies say they have protocols in place in the event of a court house sniper attack similar to the one Monday in Reno which injured family court Judge Chuck Weller.
Last year the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office put together a comprehensive disaster plan that includes what deputies would do in the event of a shooting or sniper attack, said Lt. Les Lovell.
The confidential plan covers entering and exit procedures and what to do to minimize threats to those inside the courtroom. On a normal court day eight deputies are staffed, two in the perimeter, four deputy sheriffs as bailiffs, a transportation deputy and a sergeant who supervises the staff.
Meanwhile, the Tahoe Township building were Judge Richard Glasson resides is fortified with bulletproof glass, steel panels, panic alarms, a metal detection unit and video surveillance cameras inside and outside the courtroom. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office substation is located downstairs in the Tahoe Township building. At least four constables and deputies are also in the courtroom at any given time.
The building itself is public and houses several offices including the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“We’re not a tight building but we have a tight courtroom,” Glasson said, adding that on top of all of Tahoe Township security measures “we’ve got an extremely professional law enforcement presence.”
Sgt. Tom Mezzetta of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said what happened in Reno was startling. He added that threats are not uncommon to law officers and judges and that all are taken seriously.
“It’s horrible. You would think the court is the one place you would be safe,” Mezzetta said.
Glasson said the sniper shooting was done by “an isolated nut” and that he’s grateful Judge Weller wasn’t injured any more than he was.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Judge Weller and his family,” Glasson said.