BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — There were long lines outside the Erie County Rath Building on Franklin Street Thursday morning for a random security check. According to the County this check was random and recommended by Homeland Security.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz Tweeted out Thursday morning that "all today personnel and visitors to the Rath Building have to go through a security checkpoint. It will be done randomly in the future. I'm waiting like everyone else in line."
County spokesman Peter Anderson said it was a security exercise that has been in the works with other safety measures that have been put in place since 2016 at the Rath Building, including metal detectors. But normally, staffers are not required to go through the security checkpoint.
But Anderson said this would not be a daily occurrence, however,there are expected to be future random checks.
"But everyone who who works in the building was supposed to go through the exercise this morning. This is the first time we have done this - depending on what happens today – it may happen again, but the message that we really want to send is we want everyone in the building to be safe – all the employees," stated Anderson.
It took about 15-minutes for employees and visitors to be processed through the security check. But County Executive Poloncarz indicated in a Twitter statement that he learned a few employees left th line, realizing they would be required to "walk thru the mental detectors". Poloncarz said that suggested "the may have had a weapon or contraband on them." Poloncarz said if that was the case then the random check "worked". Employees are not allowed to carry weapons into the Rath Building unless they are authorized law enforcement.
Anderson also noted that no employee would be "docked" for pay if they were late due to security wait. There are approximately 3,000 county employees who work at the Rath Building.
But now the county executive's chief political rival is accusing him of trying to catch him in the act, with a weapon. Anderson said the Republican County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw of avoiding the security check point.
Mychajliw turned down our request to speak on camera, but his chief of staff, Bryan Fiume told 7 Eyewitness News the comptroller did bypass the security check. He pulled in the parking garage below the building and went right to his office on the 11th floor. Fiume called the security check a quote "Sting Operation to catch Mychajliw with a gun" at work. Fiume also referred to it as a "stupid stunt."
Fiume also confirmed Mychajliw does have a concealed permit, but claims he never brings his gun to work. He added the comptroller works for the "taxpayers", not the county executive.
We also reached out to Department of Homeland Security to ask if it did make the recommendation for the county to hold the random check at the Rath Building and are waiting for a response.