COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A security breach at the El Paso County Courthouse went unnoticed for nearly an hour before security guards responded.
11 News first reported the issue when the courthouse was closed to the public on Veterans Day last Friday. We’ve learned that now there will now be a major assessment of security for county buildings following that breach.
El Paso County officials said after reviewing surveillance video, the doors were locked for part of the day until those locks failed. Police told 11 News it appeared that the first set of doors for the courthouse were not locked properly and someone shook the second set of doors enough to knock loose a wooden lock.
At least 10 people were able to walk right into the courthouse and through an unstaffed security checkpoint.
11 News has since obtained the surveillance video, which shows several people trying to get in. Eventually, a woman yanks on the door and others follow her inside when it opens.
Outside the second set of doors, our crew found a door handle on the ground, a wooden lock knocked out of place, and an empty security checkpoint.
“It’s supposed to be safe. We went to leave and it set off one of the alarms. It’s been going off for 30 minutes and still no one has showed up from the police department. I even called 911,” said Larrizza Vasquez, who came to the courthouse not realizing the building was closed for the holiday and was able to get inside.
Vasquez and her mother were concerned about the risk to the few court personnel who were working on the holiday, and also to sensitive court records that could have been compromised.
“The information that could be stolen, identity theft, the list goes on and on. You don’t hear about things like this happening,” Bobbi Schultz said.
11 News found a court judge who was working in the building, who then called security.
“For whatever reason, this was not seen by the security cameras or not seen by the monitor of security cameras, and the alarm did not immediately sound. This caused a delay in response by county security,” said El Paso County spokesperson Dave Rose.
Colorado Springs police said their officers showed up two hours after the women called 911. They said the reason for the delay was a lack of an immediate threat.
Meanwhile, El Paso County administration felt the issue was concerning enough that they are now moving forward with a plan for a comprehensive assessment of security at the courthouse and other county buildings.
“The systems are in place that should have caught [the breach] and didn’t,” Rose said.
Rose said it’s an issue that’s been on the radar of county leaders for a while, but after the breach on Friday, they expedited getting the assessment started.
The county said they hope a big communication issue is fixed. Currently, three different agencies have a role in monitoring the safety of the courthouse and it can be challenging to coordinate them all.
“If you did have an incident there, you'll have county security, you'll have the sheriff's office that is responsible in the courtroom, and of course the facility is in the city of Colorado Springs, so the city of Colorado Springs Police Department will respond.
Starting Monday, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will take command of the El Paso County Security Department and will investigate what can be done better. The assessment of the security at the courthouse and other county buildings will likely take a month.
County officials will take that finished report and anticipate making some changes.
“Through this process, we may learn that there's a need for reorganization, perhaps there's a need for a different type of equipment to be installed, and we really want to review that from top to bottom,” Rose said.