Officials bolster security after vagrant found in closed courthouse

by | Oct 25, 2019 | Updates

Article from by Rebecca Rosenberg

An aerial view of Bronx Supreme Court, where a homeless man was found wandering on Friday morning.  Robert Kalfus

A homeless man wandered onto the floor at Bronx Supreme Court that houses the judges’ chambers Friday morning, prompting state officials to bolster the building’s security, the Post has learned.

Just before 7:45 a.m., a man who appeared to be homeless, entered 851 Grand Concourse Avenue through an unlocked door and rode the elevator to the 8th floor where he sat on a bench.

The building doesn’t open to the public until 8 a.m. After an alarmed staffer spotted the man in the hallway, he took off.

“This exemplifies why this union has been pushing for court officers to be staffed there,” said Patrick Cullen, president of the state Supreme Court Officers Association. “God knows what could have happened if he was carrying a weapon.”

He added, “The only people around were maintenance workers.”

In response to the incident, the Office of Court Administration said they’d provide extra security. “Effective immediately, we’ll staff the entrance with a couple of court officers starting at 6 a.m.,” said the agency’s spokesman, Lucian Chalfen.

Custodial workers unlock the front doors at 6 a.m. but there’s no security to man the entrance until the building officially opens two hours later, he said. Judges and courthouse staffers access the building at all hours and on weekends.

A source told The Post that a burgeoning homeless population has been amassing under the scaffolding that surrounds the sprawling edifice, which occupies an entire city block.

Cullen said he was pleased by OCA’s swift response but added, “They need to also take a look at the dozen of other facilities that we work in throughout New York City that continue to have inadequate security.”

In 2015, budget cuts eliminated late-night security sweeps, and several vagrants were caught sneaking into Queens and Manhattan courthouses looking for a warm place to crash, The Post reported at the time.