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‘20 under 40’ award has big impact, past winners say

Friday, July 11, 2014

Updated July 14, 2014

As the Aug. 1 deadline for nominations for Security Director News’ “20 under 40” awards fast approaches, I’ve been thinking about the previous winners I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know. 

I checked in with a few of them by email recently—it’s very hard to get these busy pros on the phone!— to get their take on how the award has helped them in their careers and how attending the TechSec conference, where the awards are presented, benefited them. From advancing in their careers, expanding their professional ties through networking and earning even more respect from their peers and supervisors, each had positive things to say.

I hope they’ll inspire you to add some more names to this year’s robust nominee list. Please do—and remember the deadline is right around the corner. Here they are, in their own words…

Toby Heath, business development manager, Seneca Data

“The award landed me the next job in my career path. My employer specifically asked about the award and immediately understood my relevance in the security industry.

“There were two distinct benefits in attending TechSec. First, the educational sessions were all focused on the future of the security market—this is the opposite of most shows. Second, the networking with peers provided me with numerous new relationships that I am still leveraging today.

“I would encourage others to nominate their peers because the security industry is built on relationships. What better way to strengthen a relationship than recommending them for an award!”

Chad Pohle, director safety and security, Montage Laguna Beach

“The award has impacted my career with respect to the networking opportunities and new relationships I’ve made with a multitude of professionals in various industries (especially my own). I feel the most valuable relationships I’ve built have actually been with the other winners in my class.

“More importantly, winning the award publicized and affirmed the commitment my team of officers has for our guests’ safety, security and comfort. I still don’t consider myself to be the winner of this award as I feel this award was won by my team of officers, and I was simply the person who accepted it on their behalf.

“I’d encourage others to nominate young professionals for '20 under 40' because recognizing individuals for their hard work shows the nominees they’re appreciated and they’re doing something right. Ultimately, it promotes camaraderie and creates a fraternal organization of trusted individuals who are dedicated to their profession and gives up-and-coming young professionals the forum to be recognized for their continued efforts. My goal for every officer on my team is for them to eventually hold my title (and beyond) at one of our properties (if that’s what they’re seeking). As I’ve matured into my position over the years, the one main thing that continues to drive and excite me more and more is the growth and development of talented young security professionals and enriching their lives with education they can use in their personal and professional lives."

Adam Parker, director of loss prevention, Lamps Plus Inc.

“I was very excited to learn that I was selected as a '20 under 40' winner from Security Director News. It truly is an honor to be part of such an exclusive and high-caliber group of young security professionals. It was also very nice to hear the congratulations of my peers, both in the retail loss prevention community as well as the larger security industry as a whole.

“Attending the Tech Sec Solutions conference was also a treat. I think what I enjoyed most about the conference was sharing information and networking with other security professionals. The event attracted hands-on leaders from every security market and discipline including hospitality, data centers, schools, hospitals, utilities, retailers, manufactures and more. I was able to share and gain insight into many of the common security challenges and solutions that we all face. I’m personally very appreciative for the entire experience and to be included with such a wonderful and diverse group of young security leaders.”

Scott Starkey, security director, Birmingham Water Works Board

“The '20 under 40' award was probably the most influential professional award that I have ever received.  After my company learned that I had received the award it helped my career immensely. Within a year of receiving the award, I was promoted and had several other companies call with unsolicited job offers.  

“I would certainly encourage all security professionals to look around at their staff and take the time to nominate someone who has worked really hard in the profession and deserves the credit and prestige that goes along with winning this award.

“I have attended many conferences put on by various security organizations; the TechSec Conference is, hands down, the best conference of the year. Each year, I learn a great deal from the very knowledgeable speakers, and I bring their practical, insightful knowledge back to my job to incorporate strategies that I learned. The strategies and technological ideas that I bring back helps me show a very pleasing ROI to my board of directors and CEO, which, in turn, provides me with the needed financial resources to implement my security strategies. I feel that this conference is certainly well worth the time and expense. If a security professional attends this conference, they will not be disappointed.”

Demerle Lewis, security manager, New York State Insurance Fund

"Receiving this award has helped me tremendously in my career. Not only did I receive recognition for my expertise and knowledge, but I joined a fraternity of professionals who have received the award before me as well as those who will receive the award in the future. Receiving the award has allowed me to move forward in my career as I am now making the transition from a security manager to a security consultant. Some of the relationships I have with my colleagues stem from winning the award. I am grateful for the nomination and still honored to this day that I was chosen. It is a huge accomplishment.

"Attending the TechSec conference was one of the best decisions I have made. The conference gives security professionals the opportunity to network with peers, and there is nothing better than putting a face with a name. The conference also allows us to take part in panel discussions about topics that are current and relevant to the industry and not only do we discuss issues we are facing, but also to come up with solutions and ideas to make things better.

"There are so many professionals in our field who are going unnoticed. Nominating them will not only help to enhance their careers, will also encourage them to continue to strive to be the best they can be. I remember the excitement I felt when I first learned of my nomination. Not only was I ecstatic, but I felt a sense of accomplishment. I was proud to be nominated, and I didn't expect to be chosen as a winner of the award; the nomination itself was enough for me. It helped me to know I belonged in the industry and that I can accomplish so much more."


Uniformed, armed police chief confronted when entering store

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

I’ve been reporting lately on the retailers, including Target, that have asked customers to leave their guns at home, especially in Texas where Open Carry Demonstrations at stores and restaurants have been prevalent in recent weeks.

So this piece of news out of Takoma Park, Md., caught my eye as an interesting take on the bringing-firearms-into stores situation. I wanted to pass it along. I especially enjoyed the police chief’s smart comments.

Here’s the report from

“Takoma Park Police Chief Alan Goldberg said in 35 years in law enforcement he's never had a store tell him that he would have to leave his service weapon in the car or leave—especially when he was in his police uniform. But that's what happened July 4 in the Ikea in College Park, Md., when Goldberg had stopped in with his daughter.

“ ‘It isn't the most prudent thing to do to walk around the store in uniform with an empty holster,’ Goldberg said. ‘And I am not going to lock my gun in a commercial parking lot, with people watching me put it in there. That's just ludicrous.’

“Ikea issued a statement saying, ‘Our weapon policy does not apply to law enforcement officers.’

“Goldberg, who was so angry at the store's response Friday that he posted about it on Facebook, said Monday that the store's response satisfies him.”

Goldberg was in uniform because he had worked that morning at the city's July 4 parade, and would be back on duty that night for fireworks, according to

The Ikea store had signs posted on its front door that read "Weapons Free Environment, and it was a loss prevention officer who stopped Goldberg, said.


Role of sports security embedded in biz

Monday, July 7, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS—The 2014 National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security Conference & Exhibition gets under way here July 8 and continues through July 10, and it looks to be a great show.

At NCS4’s fifth annual conference the theme is “The Business of Sports Safety and Security.” The role of sports security is, NCS4 says, now more than ever a business one. “No longer an afterthought, security has become a core function embedded in disciplines such as finance, law, marketing and operations,” it says.

In addition to presenting its annual Golden Eagle Awards, NCS4 will conduct education sessions focusing on security at high school athletics and after-school activities; collegiate events, including combating behavior issues at those events; implementing security standards and best practices at professional sports venues ; tailgating issues; incidence command at marathons and other endurance events; and active shooter incidents at sporting events.

Roundtable discussion topics will include the use of robotics in sports safety and security, crowd control, command centers, the pros and cons of social media and lessons learned from the Boston Marathon bombings.

I do want to catch up with NCS4 to find out how this conference went. I’ll be following it from here, via Twitter and other updates, but if you’re there, let me know!


Y-12 nun's story makes it on to 'Orange is the New Black'

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I’m thinking that Megan Rice, the peace-promoting 84-year-old nun who broke into the Y-12 nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., two years ago, never dreamed she’d be the basis for a character on the often violent, foul-mouthed and sexually explicit Netflix series, “Orange is the New Black.”

The acclaimed series is set in a women’s prison. It has a large cast of characters. Their backstories—as in how they wound up wearing the orange garb in the first place—are a big part of the show.

One of the characters is Sister Ingalls, an older inmate, played by Beth Fowler. Her backstory turned up in an episode I was watching last night. It seems that Sister Ingalls was convicted, along with two other peace demonstrators, older gentlemen, of breaking into a nuclear complex. The three easily sail into the supposedly high-security site, get to their destination and look around. They haven’t been detected, which obviously is what they want to happen; they're demonstrating afterall. Where are the guards? Sister Ingalls yells out something to the effect of, “Hello! Is there anyone here?” She then splashes a container of “blood” on a building. It was somewhat of a comical scene.

Sound familiar? If you’re familiar with the Y-12 details, it is. I looked it up this morning and, indeed, Beth Fowler told The Hollywood Reporter that her Sister Ingalls character was based on Megan Rice’s story. Rice is serving a 35-month sentence in a federal prison.

I was captivated by the Megan Rice Y-12 story, and obviously, it caught the eye of Hollywood, too.

Her demonstration exposed serious security flaws at the plant. After the break-in, the complex had to be shut down, security forces were re-trained and contractors were replaced. The Department of Energy’s inspector general wrote a scathing report on the facility’s security failures, and the security contractor was later fired.


Fourth of July weekend ripe for cargo theft

Monday, June 30, 2014

Organized cargo theft rings love holiday weekends.

That’s because they know shipments might be left unattended longer than usual, according to FreightWatch International. Thefts go up over these weekends, and the Fourth of July is no exception.

Thefts occurring over Independence Day weekends between 2010 and 2013 had an average value of $257,016; nine separate incidents involving cargo valued over $250,000 were recorded during this period, according to a FreightWatch press release.

Here are some notable thefts from previous Fourth of July weekends, provided by FreightWatch:

  • $2.5 million full-truckload theft of cell phones in Miami, Fla.
  • $406K full-truckload theft of medical equipment in Duval, Fla.
  • Full-truckload theft of Rx/Scheduled medication in Troy, Ill.
  • $80K theft from trailer of OTC medication in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • $500K facility burglary of televisions in Medley, Fla.

Both in-transit and warehouse operations likely will be targets over the three-day holiday weekend coming right up, so FreightWatch urges security pros to be on high alert.


Parents turn in suspected smash-and-grabbers

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Here's a twist.

Two of the five suspects in a June 13 smash-and-grab robbery at a Saks Fifth Avenue store in Troy, Mich., have been turned in—by their parents.

Joshua Tredez Colvin, 17, of Detroit, was arrested June 20 and arraigned June 24 on a charge of retail fraud, third degree, a five-year felony, according to report in the Oakland Press. Colvin entered a plea of not guilty and was released on a $10,000 personal bond, the report said.

The name of the second supect trotted down to the police station by his parents has not been released. He is a juvenile.

Two people smashed open a glass jewelry case, grabbed seven Cartier watches, but dropped one, as they took off along with their lookout and two other suspects, police said.

Clear photos from store surveillance cameras were made public by police.


Hospital nightmare

Monday, June 23, 2014

FOUNTAIN HILL, Penn.—A 26-year-old man was being treated at St. Luke’s University Hospital here for a head injury sustained in a motorcycle accident. A few days later, he broke through a locked sixth-floor window and jumped. It was the injuries from the jump that eventually caused his death.

This is the stuff of every hospital security staff’s worse nightmare. The needless loss of life? Not to mention that events like this can lead to lawsuits and other consequences.

It’s called elopement. The man tried to leave the hospital four times after he was admitted and was successful twice, according to a report in The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa. When he did get out of the hospital, he was picked up by police and returned to the hospital, the report said. You can read the full report here.

It’s common for brain-injured patients to try and leave the hospital, the report said.

Condolences go out, not only to family and friends of the brain-injured patient, but to the staff at St. Luke's as well; you know they're reeling and, I'd assume, second-guessing their actions. I don't know any more details than what I've read, and maybe more will come out. I just know from hospital security pros I've spoken to over the last few years that securing people in a hospital setting is very, very difficult.

In a case such as this one, “(d)octors cannot simply strap down or anesthetize an unruly medical patient for long periods of time as they once could," said Marilyn Hollier, president of the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety. "Back in the day, you could put patients in restraints for a few hours, but you can't do that anymore," she told the newspaper.

Hospitals face so many challenges these days, from active shooters, gang-related violence, domestic violence that spills over into the workplace and more. That’s why they need to have top-notch security staffs and technology at their disposal.

I spoke with IAHSS President Marilyn Hollier at ISC West this spring and interviewed her on camera. Hear how she’s making sure her facilities at the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers are doing their best to protect patients and staff. Hint: It has to do with respecting, honoring and valuing the security team.


More good news in the See Something, Say Something Dept.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A teenager in Sanford, Maine, has been charged with criminal threatening after posting on Facebook that he was thinking about shooting everyone in his class. This occurred in the wake of the shooting of Reynolds High School in Troutdale, Ore.

The teen had motive and means, police say.

The boy got caught before making more definitive plans or taking action because a fellow student told her mother about the threats she had seen on Facebook, and the mother in turn notified police. (Thank you, fellow student, and thank you, Mom!)

"The most important aspect of this case is that a student reported her concerns about the suspect's Facebook posts to her mother, and the mother immediately called the police and alerted us to the threat, ultimately leading to the suspect's arrest. Since we believe that the suspect had the motive and the means to commit this crime, the student's and parent's swift action was crucial in allowing us to close this case," Sanford Police Chief Thomas P. Connolly Jr. said in a report from

I wrote last month about a young woman in Minnesota. She was washing dishes when she saw something unusual out her window. She notified police, who showed up and found a teenager with elaborate plans to kill his family, set a fire to divert law enforcement, then head for his high school armed with bombs and firearms that he had manufactured and stockpiled with the intent of injuring as many students as he could.

Thankfully, that teen couldn’t carry out his plans.

Meanwhile, I just read today, June 16, about the arrests of two Tennessee teens who studied the 1999 Columbine school shootings and wanted to top that massacre to claim their place in posterity. They wanted to become the most notorious school shooters of all time, according to news reports. Authorities seized their journals and weapons last fall after the investigation began. That investigation began because an alert parent found a notebook outlining the plans to kill people at Volunteer High School in Church Hill. A counselor for one of the boy's saw the plot as real and alerted authorities, according to a report from

"This wasn't just a threat," Hawkins County Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said in the report. "This was a planned attack."

The Tennessee teens have been charged and are in custody. You can read more about their frightening plans here.

There should be GIGANTIC honors for these people who See Something and Say Something.

Know of any other stories like this? Let me know.


Troutdale chief credits drills, training, fast response for preventing far greater tragedy

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What follows is the June 11 official statement from Troutdale, Ore., Police Chief Scott Anderson about the shooting at Reynolds High School June 10 that left two 15-year-olds dead, including the shooter, and injured a teacher.


My name is Scott Anderson, and I am the chief of Troutdale Police Department.

To update the investigation:

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office completed the autopsy this morning on the shooter and has positively identified him as 15-year-old Jared Michael Padgett.

He was a freshman at Reynolds High School. He arrived at school yesterday morning on the school bus carrying a guitar case and a duffel bag. He entered the boys’ locker room in the building that housed the gymnasium. He spent a period of time in the locker room and during that time murdered a fellow student.

We have not established any link between the student and the shooter.

Teacher Todd Rispler encountered the shooter in the locker room. As he was fleeing, Mr. Rispler was shot once, suffering a grazing wound to his hip. Mr. Rispler made his way to the office, where he was able to notify the administration, which then immediately initiated the lockdown.

As the shooter was moving through the main hallway, he encountered officers who were starting to enter from two separate doorways. At that time, he moved into a small restroom. We know there was an exchange of gunfire between one of the first responding officers and the shooter. Based on the autopsy this morning, we do know that the shooter died of a self-inflected gunshot wound.

The shooter used an AR-15 type rifle in the attack and carried, but did not use, a semi-automatic handgun. Investigators also recovered nine loaded magazines with the capability of holding several hundred rounds.

The shooter also had a large knife. He was wearing a non-ballistic vest used for carrying ammunition and other items. He also was wearing a multi-sport helmet with a camouflage design.

The shooter obtained the weapons from his family home. The weapons had been secured, but he defeated the security measures.

At this time, it would be inappropriate to discuss a possible motive for the murder.

I cannot emphasize enough the role that Mr. Rispler and the responding officers played in saving many, many lives yesterday. Given the weapons and amount of ammunition that the shooter was carrying, the early notification and the initial law enforcement response were critical. Every one of the teachers and students in that school did the exact right thing in a very difficult situation.

Sometimes it may be difficult to understand why we—law enforcement and the schools collectively—do the planning and lockdown drills we do, but yesterday, it worked.

To the parents—we understand there is no greater fear than knowing your child may be in danger and you cannot get to them. We know that some of you had to wait—sometimes several hours—to reunite with them. It was our priority—and that of the school—to get the kids out and get them back to you safely. We appreciate your understanding that it was a process that took some time. The support you provided to us and to your children was phenomenal.

We know that parents, students, and staff are still dealing with the impact of this incident. The mental health resources are available again today, and I would encourage you to take advantage of them at the schools and at Mt. Hood Community College. We will have more information on that in a few minutes.


New LP VP’s got a lot of good stuff on his plate at NRF

Monday, June 9, 2014

WASHINGTON—I caught up with Robert Moraca at a busy time for him. Just two weeks into his new role as VP of LP for the National Retail Federation, he was amidst preparations for the June 10-13 NRF Loss Prevention Conference and Expo in Florida.

There’s lots of excitement at NRF right now, Moraca said, with many ideas floating around. Chief among those are plans to improve important public-private partnerships, he said.

He spoke enthusiastically of the NRF Fusion Center, which, at the NRF Expo, will give retailers the opportunity to meet with more than 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to discuss tactics and exchange critical information to counteract retail crime, all the while enhancing those important partnerships.

Moraca’s to-do list also includes organized retail crime initiatives, including more lobbying for state—and federal—legislation. Cyber issues and credit card fraud efforts are also on that long list.

Then there are the issues that “won’t go away,” Moraca said, including workplace violence, internal theft and active shooter training.

Moraca takes over for Richard Mellor, who retired in February. Mellor is now senior asset protection advisor to NRF.

Moraca’s background  and enthusiasm are impressive. I will miss speaking as often as I have with Mellor. He was always insightful and accommodating in providing information for Security Director News articles. You’ll be missed, Rich!