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VENTURA : Security Tightened at Hall of Justice

Security was tightened and 12 gang members were escorted from Ventura County Hall of Justice Thursday after they made comments and flashed gang signs at witnesses, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Sgt. Dick Southwick said the gang members tried to intimidate witnesses in the case of an unidentified juvenile accused of robbery. There were no arrests, he said, and no weapons found.

Last week four people were arrested after two south Oxnard gangs had a fistfight outside the juvenile courtroom on the building’s third floor.

Because of the clash and the increasing number of gang-related court cases, two new portable metal detectors and a hand-held detector were in place on the third floor of the courthouse Thursday.

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The Sheriff’s Department bought the two metal detectors earlier this year because of concern over courtroom security. This year there have been four gang-related slayings in the county, several attempted murders and numerous drive-by shootings.

Southwick said the tightened security will be used only as needed. It took six officers to operate it all day.


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