Last Friday was a busy day at the REGJB. The lines out front that our favourite herald Scribe is forced to stand in along with the hoi polloi were compounded by the fact that the security screening machine in the back was broken.
There was a disturbance in the front of the building and an obviously agitated man who had already stood in line was sitting on the floor by the exit saying very loudly that he had already stood in line and was not going to do it again. It became clear that as he was leaving the building he reached the exit and perhaps stepped over the magic line and realized he needed to go back inside. Security, first in the form of a woman who could not speak the English language in any intelligible manner, barred him from re-entering. The man then- in the best traditions of those of us who lived in the sixties- staged his own sit-down and refused to move.
A larger security officer approached the man, and here’s where the system broke down.
There was no effort at communication. There was no effort at understanding this man’s frustration. There was just a threat and escalation in anger that was quickly heading towards violence.
For all we know the man staging the sit-in could have been violent or mentally ill. By our view, all it would have taken to defuse the situation is a half-way intelligent human being talking to this man for a few moments. Sympathizing with him and his plight, and perhaps agreeing to take him back through the security screening process quickly.
But our highly trained security specialists are not trained to do that. They are trained to threaten, threaten more, and then call for the police. And that’s where the system broke down. Because in our little courthouse where normally you can’t expectorate without hitting one of Miami’s finest, there were no brown or blue uniforms to be seen. The highly trained security officer used his radio, and then-we are not making this up- he put his radio down and appeared to call 911. In the Justice Building.
911: Do you have an emergency?
Security: Yes I need a police officer. A man will not leave our building.
911: Address please
Security: 1351 NW 12 th Street.
911: You're kidding right? You can't find a cop at the Justice Building?
As this was happening- an alert Metro Dade uniformed officer walked into the building. The highly trained security officer- who by the way was not being assisted by his fellow highly trained security officers- waved to the alert Metro Dade Officer- who by this time had reached the escalator. The officer- pleased to be recognized and wished a good day- responded with a big smile and wave and went on his way. All the time, the highly trained security officer was standing next to our 60’s protester- while dialing 911 for help.
If the man who was upset had been bent on causing havoc, he could have rampaged through four floors before any help would have arrived. It reminded us of the time we saw a man barge to the front of the line- go through the machine-which beeped- and then said “I’m late for court.”- and then walked into the building- while the highly trained security officer smiled at us and shrugged her shoulders and said something in Spanish.
Back to Friday: eventually a more alert Metro Dade Officer arrived and soon the front of the building was teaming with officers as if Rudy Giuliani had arrived and said he saw an airplane flying suspiciously.
The point is that we who enter the building on a regular basis know that the security people are overwhelmed. They are under trained- many do not understand English- and we are sure they are under paid.
What is it going to take to bring some order and professionalism to the security force at the REGJB?
How about tweaking the budget and employing an off-duty uniformed officer at each entrance from 8am to noon everyday to help supervise the security screening of the morning crowds?
Let’s be innovative. What does an off duty officer get? 20 bucks an hour? Sell some advertising. 80 dollars a day, $400.00 a week- and a large sign- ‘THE SECURITY AT THE BUILDING TODAY COURTESY OF THE TICKET TEAM. GOT A TRAFFIC TICKET? CALL THE LAWYERS WHO HELP KEEP YOU SAFE- 1800- WHATEVER.
It could work.
See You In Court dreaming of protests and sit-ins
PS The security screening machine is still broken at the back of the courthouse. Today when we entered the building at the rear we saw attorneys handing their briefcases to be screened. The cases were screened by the highly trained security officer glancing inside. This is a major breach of security. Someone dressed in a suit and tie with a briefcase can now bring a weapon into the building by posing as an attorney and coming in the back. Just something else to keep us awake at night.