Armed guards and metal detectors are a common site at courthouses.
They are there to help prevent random acts of violence and thwart terrorist attacks.
8 On Your Side has obtained video that shows a potentially fatal flaw in security at the Hillsborough County courthouse in downtown Tampa. “It’s an illusion and I proved that,” a whistle blower said of security at the courthouse.
The video was recorded on a cell phone Wednesday, May 27th by a whistle blower who asked to remain anonymous, at least for now.
It shows him walking up to a construction area on the East street side of the courthouse.
“I knew a person’s first name who worked on the job site, that was all the clearance I needed,” he said.
The video shows he climbed 5 flights of stairs, and then took an elevator down to the 2nd floor, where he then proceeded to walk anywhere he wanted.
“I was never confronted or said hello to, or, what are you doing here or nothing,” the whistle blower added.
He walked from the south end of the complex, to the north end.
“I kept thinking this is freaky as can be. I walked in a back door of a courthouse and you know I don’t want to have an Oklahoma City bombing in my city,” he explained. “I was right there at the court rooms.”
He shared the video with 8 On Your Side, we showed to court administrator Michael Bridenback.
“I believe it was a really serious breach of our security and it concerned me greatly,” Bridenback stated.
According to Bridenback the expectation had been that the accessed door, was to remain locked.
“I was not aware of the problems with that entrance,” Bridenback added. “The courthouse is a secure facility we are charged with maintaining that security, this gentleman breached it, we take it very seriously,” Hillsborough county sheriff’s office colonel Mike Perotti stated. “You lay out the ground rules and the expectations for your contract workers, you tell them what the expectations are for maintaining security. This building but at the end of the day, somebody walking through that door and through these hallways is the responsibility of the sheriff.”
According to the whistle blower, Walbridge, the contractor renovating the courthouse, is also working at Quail Hollow elementary school. The whistle blower worked at the school and claims, once sheriff’s investigators determined his identity through surveillance tapes, he was fired.
“Should any of those workers down there who saw me, get in trouble? No, not their job. It’s sheriff Gee’s job to secure the courthouse and who he appoints to secure it, failed in their duties, hold them accountable” the whistle blower added.
He claims he had no ill intent, he just meant to show a weakness in the system.
Watching the video was uncomfortable for court administrator Bridenback.
“Extremely uncomfortable particularly with what could have been if there were someone with harmful intentions. “We’re very appreciative that we were able to get this second chance with this problem,” Bridenback added.
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