Secret Service stops gun screening at Obama rally
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
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
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