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Friday, December 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Public Safety Building break-in shows security shortfalls

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich wasn’t surprised when someone broke into the Public Safety Building Saturday.

“This is not a secure campus,” he said of the complex that includes the Sheriff’s Office, the Spokane Police Department, the Spokane County Courthouse and the Spokane County Jail.

There are no security cameras in the Public Safety Building, for example – a deficiency Knezovich said he’d like to remedy. “We got grant money for part of the camera project,” he said. “We have the server part of the system, but we don’t have the cameras to feed to the server.”

Paul J. Reinhardt was arrested on a charge of second-degree burglary and is being held in jail on $200,000 bond.

“We suspect drugs had a heavy influence on his thinking,” Knezovich said.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge James Triplett was the first to spot Reinhardt on Saturday afternoon. He told deputies he was getting into his car at Jefferson and Broadway when Reinhardt drove up and started asking questions, court records say.

“Why am I in trouble?” he asked the judge, as Reinhardt drove onto the grass to go around barriers blocking Jefferson.

Reinhardt left his truck in the middle of the road and ran toward the Public Safety Building. A witness told police she was working inside the building when she saw Reinhardt climb on top of the glass enclosure at the front doors and break out the glass with what appeared to be a crowbar. Reinhardt broke a second glass door to get inside, where he broke another glass door to gain entry to the Sheriff’s Office section of the building.

Knezovich said a security analysis of the public safety complex is underway and the glass doors are an issue.

“If you’re going to have glass, you might want to have glass that isn’t broken so easily,” he said.

Reinhardt climbed up into the ceiling and was arrested after he fell through the ceiling tiles in the sex crimes division. Knezovich said the damage isn’t major.

The tool that Reinhardt was wielding turned out to be a torque wrench handle, according to court documents.

Short of building a tall fence around the complex, Knezovich said he’s not sure how to completely secure the area. “That’s another aspect that we’ve talked about multiple, multiple times,” he said. “There’s no way to simply try to put barriers all over the place.”

The sheriff said he will want to make changes once the security analysis is complete.

“It’s really time to put the campus into the 21st century,” he said. “We’re not living in the same world we were in when the campus was designed and built.”

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