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Secret Service stops gun screening at Obama rally

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.star-telegram.com/667/story/486413.html Posted on Thu, Feb. 21, 2008 Police concerned about order to stop screening By JACK DOUGLAS Jr.
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2008
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      http://www.star-telegram.com/667/story/486413.html

      Posted on Thu, Feb. 21, 2008
      Police concerned about order to stop screening
      By JACK DOUGLAS Jr.
      Star-Telegram Staff Writer

      DALLAS -- Security details at Barack Obama's rally
      Wednesday stopped screening people for weapons at the
      front gates more than an hour before the Democratic
      presidential candidate took the stage at Reunion
      Arena.

      The order to put down the metal detectors and stop
      checking purses and laptop bags came as a surprise to
      several Dallas police officers who said they believed
      it was a lapse in security.

      Dallas Deputy Police Chief T.W. Lawrence, head of the
      Police Department's homeland security and special
      operations divisions, said the order -- apparently
      made by the U.S. Secret Service -- was meant to speed
      up the long lines outside and fill the arena's vacant
      seats before Obama came on.

      "Sure," said Lawrence, when asked if he was concerned
      by the great number of people who had gotten into the
      building without being checked. But, he added, the
      turnout of more than 17,000 people seemed to be a
      "friendly crowd."

      The Secret Service did not return a call from the
      Star-Telegram seeking comment.

      Doors opened to the public at 10 a.m., and for the
      first hour security officers scanned each person who
      came in and checked their belongings in a process that
      kept movement of the long lines at a crawl. Then,
      about 11 a.m., an order came down to allow the people
      in without being checked.

      Several Dallas police officers said it worried them
      that the arena was packed with people who got in
      without even a cursory inspection.

      They spoke on condition of anonymity because, they
      said, the order was made by federal officials who were
      in charge of security at the event.

      "How can you not be concerned in this day and age,"
      said one policeman.
      JACK DOUGLAS Jr., 817-390-7700
      jld@...
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