Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
A security review is under way at Dallas County buildings and the Dallas County sheriff was authorized to take immediate steps to beef up security after the Kaufman County tragedies.
A complete security review is under way for Dallas County buildings after the Kaufman County district attorney and his wife were slain.
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said she has already shifted people and equipment to add greater deputy presence around courts. Valdez expects to implement added security measures over the next several days.
“And I think there will be areas that security will be visible enough that people will have a little bit more comfort,” Valdez said.
She and other county officials attended a closed-door meeting Tuesday where the security changes were ordered.
“We’ve given the sheriff the green light to do what’s necessary this week, and we’re looking at a variety of options for enhanced security on a go forward basis,” said County Judge Clay Jenkins. “We don’t know how expensive it’s going to be. We balance the cost with the security, but as I’ve often said, nothing else matters if we can’t keep the people of Dallas County safe,” he said.
Officials declined to provide details of all the changes to keep any potential threats from learning about security weaknesses.
“We want to make sure that we don’t have a copycat and we want to make sure that we don’t give people ideas,” Valdez said.
Dallas County prosecutors have raised concerns before about parking arrangements that expose them to the public.
Federal prosecutors in Dallas use an underground parking garage to enter their heavily secured courthouse with no public contact outside.
The new security measures come days after Kaufman District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife were found slain in their home Saturday and Kaufman County Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse was slain two months ago in the courthouse parking lot.
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said the improved security plan has already added a new shadow of protection for him and new measures to guard his prosecutors.
“The plan was put in place Saturday night and the plan is ongoing,” Watkins said. “This is just one piece of it. And you will see changes throughout different buildings in Dallas County as a result of what happened in Kaufman County.”
Dallas District Attorney Craig Watkins, is the first black person in Texas to be elected to that position, has reported receiving anonymous threats for years.
“That’s just to be expected,” Watkins said. “But now I see that I should take this more seriously.”
Watkins said the county judge and sheriff have pledged a commitment to implementing additional security measures.
“I don’t think this will just be a fleeting moment in time where you’ll just see this for six months,” Watkins said. “I think for the greater good of Dallas County, a lot of things need to be changed. One of the issues is security.”