A Lucas County sheriff’s deputy who has been disciplined in the past for inattention to his job could face additional sanctions for allowing a handgun to get through security screening at Toledo Municipal Court.
Deputy Barry Disalle, 68, was working the screening area at the court entrance Feb. 10 when he apparently became distracted and did not see a small semiautomatic handgun at the bottom of a woman’s purse, said Rob Sarahman, an investigator with the sheriff’s internal-affairs unit.
According to an incident report, the deputy noticed an image of the gun in the purse later on the X-ray machine about 2:30 p.m. and located the woman carrying it in the lobby area outside the city prosecutor’s office. A man with her said the gun was his and that he had a concealed carry permit, according to the report.
“If there is an upside, nobody got shot. Nobody got hurt,” Sheriff John Tharp said. “They were extremely cooperative when we confronted them about the weapon.”
While neither the man nor the woman was charged in the incident, the matter has been turned over to the city prosecutor’s office. Sheriff Tharp said weapons — even legal ones — are not permitted in the courthouse, and it also is illegal to allow someone else to carry your gun.
Deputy Disalle, meanwhile, has been reassigned to the records bureau. Detective Sarahman said he has a disciplinary hearing on March 10.
According to Deputy Disalle’s disciplinary file, since he was hired by the sheriff’s office in September, 1994, he has been reprimanded or suspended three times for neglecting his duties, most recently in 2008 when he was given a written warning for allowing an inmate under his control to walk out of municipal court to the courtyard.
In 1998, Deputy Disalle was suspended without pay for one day for leaving his security post at the Child Study Institute to go to the restroom without asking for another deputy to relieve him. Civilians were able to enter without going through the metal detectors.
He also was suspended without pay for two days in 1997 for failing to arrest an unruly man at the Child Support Enforcement Agency.
Sheriff Tharp called the Feb. 10 incident “random,” but added, “The bottom line is that the officer was sidetracked with another issue that came up real quick and the purse went through the conveyor belt, and he missed it. There are no excuses and really it stops with me so I have to deal with it aggressively.”
Presiding Judge William Connelly, Jr., said about 7,000 people come through the court’s doors every week and in general he is pleased with the security provided by deputies.
“Clearly the incident on Feb. 10 should not have happened and should never happen,” he said.
Judge Connelly said the court is getting new X-ray machines and intends to stress during training sessions the importance of monitoring everything that passes through the scanner. In this incident, the gun clearly showed up on the current equipment.
“This was not a matter of equipment failure,” Judge Connelly said. “It’s certainly human error, and the stakes are high so we have to make sure we get it right.”
Clerk of Court Vallie Bowman-English, whose office is on the first floor adjacent to the security entrance, said she was unaware of the incident until contacted by The Blade Thursday.
“I have spoken to the court administrator and have let them know that anything concerning the safety in the building I should be made aware of, especially when my employees are on the front line right where you come through the door,” she said. “It’s my responsibility to make sure they have a safe work environment.”
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.