Fairfax prosecutors ruffled by new courthouse security check, sheriff’s office alleges

Fairfax County Courthouse (via Google Maps)

An incident report from the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office alleges that two of the county’s top prosecutors clashed with security guards when asked to undergo a security screening to enter the Fairfax County Courthouse.

The sheriff’s office states in the Sept. 28 incident report that Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano and his chief deputy displayed “disrespect and unprofessionalism” that was “unsuited for an officer of the court.”

When asked to go through metal detectors at the courthouse at around 9:37 a.m. that day, Descano reportedly asked why two uniformed law enforcement officers didn’t go through security. When told by two security officers that law enforcement was exempt, Descano said “That’s bullshit!” and then asked “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the top law enforcement officer in the county,” according to the incident report. 

The courthouse routinely requires security screening of all employees and attorneys at the request of the Courthouse Security Committee, which is chaired by Chief Judge Penny Azcarate. Descano reportedly stated that he was exempt from the security screening because of his position.

Descano’s office declined to comment on the incident report. FFXnow has not viewed security footage that the incident report purports corroborates the “visual part of the incident.”

It’s unclear whether Descano and his chief deputy were aware of a new screening policy that appears to have contributed to the verbal altercation.

Under the new security policy, which began on Sept. 1, on randomly selected days, every person entering the courthouse must take part in security screenings.

This requires all individuals to walk through a magnetometer and for all bags, briefcases, purses, parcels, and electronic devices to be screened by an X-ray machine, according to the county’s website, which did not provide information about the new policy until yesterday morning (Wednesday).

A Fairfax County Circuit Court clerk declined to comment on all of FFXnow’s questions, including why the new policy was put in place, why uniformed law enforcement officers are exempt, and how it differs from the court’s previous procedures, including an option that allows attorneys to bypass security screenings.

According to the report, Kyle Manikas, the chief deputy commonwealth’s attorney, took issue with a security search of his lunch bag when a knife was detected in the metal detector screening.

“This is fucking bullshit, I know you are doing your job, but this is bullshit,” Manikas reportedly said, as quoted in the incident report. He was described as “physically upset.”

A butter knife was found in the bag.

The incident report concluded that the security officers experienced “disrespect, curse and abuse, and unprofessional conduct.”

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report. Photo via Google Maps

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