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Schools embrace panic buttons

Thursday, August 22, 2013

At least 400 schools in 12 states, from Maine to California, have armed teachers with panic buttons for the upcoming school year, according to a report I read in the Wall Street Journal.

When pressed, the panic buttons, installed in front offices, under staff members’ desks or on pendants that administrators and teachers can wear on their persons, alert local security personnel or 911 dispatchers to get to the specific school immediately with “no questions asked,” the newspaper reported. “Some also panic-button systems also send text messages to administrators and announce an alert over the school’s intercom system after 911 is called,” it said. Obviously, this system should be activated only in the most dire of emergencies.

The systems cost between $300 and $800 for each button.

I spoke with Chris Dorn, an analyst for Safe Havens, the international, non-profit campus safety center, about the Decatur, Ga., school gunman incident the other day, and the topic of panic buttons came up.

“We’re not big fans of spending a lot of money” on school security, he said, “but panic buttons can be really helpful. The caveat is that the staff has to be trained in how to use it. And, does it go to on-site security or to 911?”

New smartboard systems in classrooms, Dorn said, include a pendant that the teacher wears. That pendant includes a panic button, which when pressed immediately calls the front office and/or police. Some can actually then turn on surveillance cameras from the board, as well. Others are bulletproof, such as those recently installed at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

“That pays for itself in academic returns. That’s the kind of thing we’d like to see,” he said.

Still, there’s no better school security preparation than proactive scenario training for the staff and drills for the students. You can read Dorn’s thoughts on the Decatur, Ga., incident here.


ORC, copper/cargo theft and public/private partnerships, oh my!

Monday, August 19, 2013

So I was on vacation last week, a nice “staycation,” that is. Of course, I do live in Maine, aka, Vacationland.

I returned to work this morning, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to find an email inbox filled with messages on what topics? Not lions, tigers and bears, oh my! But ORC, copper and cargo theft and public/private partnerships, oh my!

I shouldn’t be so surprised; this is not unusual. These seem to be the hot topics in the physical security industry these days, which I will do my best to cover. I’ll be attending the ASIS International conference next month and hope to get more insights about the tech out there to help with the crimes and hear more about the partnerships that seem to be so successful.

Meanwhile, if you have comments or suggestions on those topics, or would like to pose some others that are of utmost important in your vertical right now, please get in touch with me.

I’d truly appreciate your input.

Back Bay Security Network pays off

Friday, August 9, 2013

I recently interviewed Boston Police Superintendent William Evans about his pivotal investigative role in the aftermath of last spring’s Boston Marathon bombings.

Evans, a keynote speaker at the recent NCS4 conference, told me that without the help of the Back Bay Security Network [BBSN], which meets monthly with the BPD, things could have turned out a lot differently. The bombing suspects were captured within a week.

Private video surveillance at the finish line helped law authorities identify the two suspects, and “we know all the cameras in that area,” thanks to that private-public partnership, Evans said.

Today, I spoke with the co-chairman of the Back Bay Security Network. Alan Snow is director of security and safety for Boston Properties’ Boston Region, as well as co-chair of Boston’s Building Owners and Management Association.

Here’s what he had to say:

“The partnership between private security and the Boston Police Department was never more evident than in the immediate aftermath of the marathon attack. Within an hour of the bombings, BPD officers obtained copies of surveillance video from multiple businesses along the marathon route on Boylston Street. Detectives knew exactly which businesses had surveillance cameras and to whom they should reach out to obtain the footage they needed to begin their investigation. In addition to the investigatory tool provided by surveillance coverage, area businesses also provided law enforcement with logistical support, including staging areas on privately owned roadways for mobile command centers and vehicles, as well as conference room space at major hotels. Local restaurants and supermarkets also opened their doors to investigators, patrol officers and tactical teams, who worked tirelessly for days after the attack.

“In addition to the Back Bay Security Network, the International Lodging Safety and Security Association [ILSSA], which is another longstanding private-public sector organization in the Boston area, was also very active during the aftermath of the marathon attack. One example is that the Westin Copley Place hotel ballroom quickly became the primary venue at which overall command and control was established by the governor, mayor and senior law-enforcement commanders in charge of the response and mitigation of the incident. 

“Private-sector businesses in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston have a strong history of cooperation with the Boston Police, Fire and EMS, as well as other public agencies dating back to 1996. This relationship and the ongoing collaboration and exercises not only provided crucial testing of each entity’s respective emergency plans but also enabled invaluable networking by and between law-enforcement officials and private security managers at Boston’s area businesses. 

“Consequently, private security and law-enforcement officials could dispense with the usual verification and validation process on the day of the incident since a level of familiarization and trust between the private and public sectors had already been established through years of interaction, cooperation and information sharing.”

Snow also credits his associate of 25-plus years, John Tello, who has been directly associated with Snow’s work at BBSN.

We are thankful for the police work, the private-public partnership's assistance and the end to the Boston area’s tumult. Thank you, dedicated security pros!





'20 under 40' update ... the clock is ticking

Monday, August 5, 2013

I was just looking at a photo from the 2013 Tech Sec conference of the "20 under 40" winners, which I have pinned on my bulletin board. I was remembering what a great panel disucssion we had with four of our "20 under 40" winners and how great it was to get to know all the award-winners in attendance. We had quite a mix, from retail, critical infrastructure, health care, corporate and more.

So, I'm once again reminding [notice I didn't say nagging] you that the Sept. 1 deadline to nominate your up-and-coming security pros is coming up fast. We already have a very qualified bunch of nominees, don't get me wrong, but because we at Security Director News are always looking for the cream of the cream of the crop, we'd like even more. Make it more difficult than ever for us to choose! For the 2014 conference in January we'll again be choosing four of the winners to participate in a panel discussion.

Here's a link to the TechSec conference page and here's a link to our most recent winners. Adam Williams from Diebold, Chad Pohle from Montage Laguna Beach resort, Scott Starkey from the Birmingham, Ala., Water Works Board, and Ryan Knisley from Wal-Mart were our panelists last year. Their discussion was one of the highlights of the conference, according to attendees who evaluated the seminar.

We can all stand to learn much from these young pros. Who do you know? Nominate them here.




'Operation Booster Buster' in Florida

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Looks like Florida is making some headway in the fight against organized retail crime.

On Thursday, Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight said his deputies, partnering with local retailers, arrested 59 suspects as the result on an eight-day crackdown, titled “Operation Booster Buster.” Together, the suspects had a total of 407 previous felony charges and 565 misdemeanor charges, according to a report in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. New charges filed were 41 felonies and 58 misdemeanors.

Locations for the crackdown were chosen based on crime mapping and field intelligence—part of the agency's intelligence-led policing program, the news report said. Knight described it as “crime prevention by using intel to predict and disrupt crime before it happens—not just flooding a community with green-and-white cars.”

South Florida recently set up an anti-ORC task force.

And, the state just passed an ORC theft law enhancing penalties and stiffening sentencing guidelines.

Meanwhile, Florida law enforcement also announced that they had cracked a suspected cargo theft ring. You can read about that here.



Theft of vital resource in Kansas town?

Monday, July 29, 2013

This is a new one, at least for me, please correct me if I’m wrong.

Authorities in Junction City, Kan., are looking for about 10 million gallons of a missing, critical commodity. What would that commodity be?


Yes, that’s right, water. Ten million gallons of it, which amounts to about 30 percent of the city’s water supply.

Junction City, according to its website, is “the heart of Kansas,” an historical place, just minutes from Fort Riley, an active-duty post known as the birthplace of the 7th Cavalry. It is a diverse community offering “small-town atmosphere, big-city amenities and rural pleasures,” the site says. The population is slightly upwards of 20,000.

Old and inaccurate meters and leakage may account for some of the missing H20, according to a report from NBC News, but—and this is a big but—local law enforcement officials also believe that people are stealing water from fire hydrants, the report said.

The city and the local police department have teamed up to ask residents for help, using the now familiar mantra, “If you see something, say something.” If residents see someone filling up a truck or a water trailer—or gallon jugs, for that matter—at hydrants, they are encouraged to make a report.

Of course, the city is taking other steps, too. It hopes to update all residential water meters, is examining how water is metered at the plant and aims to do a better job of accounting for how much water is lost when flushing city hydrants.

But, still, they think people are actually stealing water, which will drive up prices for law-abiding citizens and may lead to a water shortage.

What? Do we now need to post guards at hydrants?

Godspeed, Junction City. I hope it’s the meters and the leakage and not dishonest truckers and residents.


A great talk with health care pros

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yesterday I traveled south to Westford, Mass., to Tyco Security Products’ HQ to meet with the company’s Healthcare Advisory Council.

It was well worth the two-hour road trip in torrential rain. The members of the council were forthcoming and generous in their comments about the challenges they face as security pros at some of the nation’s leading hospitals.

Council members attending the meeting were Lauris Freidenfelds of Rush University Medical System in Chicago; Steven Bourg of Houston Methodist; Kenneth Rasmussen of Waterbury, Conn., Hospital; Marvin White of Yale-New Haven Hospital; Joseph Forte of Penn Medicine; Kurt Vahle of UF Health in Gainesville, Fla.; and Ralph Nerette of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. Jim Stankevich, global health-care lead for Tyco Security Products, ran the event.

Hospitals are like small cities, members said. Medical centers house retail operations, must offer hospitality, ensure visitor safety, security for their patients and protect their employees. There’s a high stress level and high emotions 24/7.

Active shooter drills, workplace violence, risk assessment surveys, access control, panic buttons, surveillance cameras, visitor management systems and more were the topics that came up during my discussion with these knowledgeable pros. Lots of good article fodder for Security Director News, so stay tuned about that.

What are your health-care security concerns? What do you hope is the focus of your local hospital’s security director? Let me know and I’ll write about it.






'20 under 40 award winners always come through!

Monday, July 22, 2013

I had the pleasure last week of speaking with one member of last year's class of SDN’s “20 under 40” winners. Randy Johnson, corporate security-shortage controller for Ferguson Enterprises Inc., based in Newport News, Va., and I were discussing what retailers do to confront organized retail crime in the top ORC hotspots in the United States.

I plan to write an article about that, talking to more LP pros in the near future. But, until then, I have to say that once again I was so impressed by this award-winning security pro’s insights.

I’ve called on many of last year's “20 under 40” winners over the past year for their expertise and information. These people are good, readers! They know what they’re doing, they know what they’re talking about and they know where the physical security industry is—or should be—headed.

That’s why it’s so very important that you nominate your younger associates for our award. Not only do they receive special, well-deserved recognition at our annual TechSec Solutions conference, to be held in January, they get the opportunity to bring their knowledge, acumen and visions to the table, benefiting us all. 

The deadline is Sept. 1. You can nominate here.

Please do. I look forward to meeting them!




Sign me up!

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Transportation Security Administration is adding a new process that will allow more U.S. citizens to enroll in TSA Pre✓™ , an expedited screening program for pre-approved airline travelers. Approved passengers will be able to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes.

Previously, to be eligible for TSA Pre✓™, travelers had to opt-in through an airline’s frequent flier program, or be enrolled in one of CBP’s Global Entry, SENTRI or NEXUS Trusted Traveler programs. More than 12 million travelers have already experienced TSA Pre✓™ at 40 airports nationwide, and the new process will expand the availability of this program to a larger portion of traveling U.S. citizens, according to a prepared statement from the TSA.

Starting later this year, U.S. citizens will be able to apply online and visit an enrollment site to provide identification and fingerprints. TSA will start the program at Washington Dulles International Airport and Indianapolis International Airport, and it has plans to expand to additional sites nationwide.

“This initiative will increase the number of U.S. citizens eligible to receive expedited screening, through TSA Pre✓™,” said TSA Administrator John S. Pistole. “TSA Pre✓™ enables us to focus on the travelers we know the least about, adding efficiency and effectiveness to the screening process.”

The TSA Pre✓™ application program requires a background check, fingerprints and an anticipated enrollment fee of $85 for a five-year membership. Once approved, travelers will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) and the opportunity to go through TSA Pre✓™ lanes at security checkpoints at participating airports.

TSA will continue, however, to incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening.

Gun safety and kids in Missouri

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Among a number of pro-gun measures passed in Missouri this year is a law encouraging school districts to teach first-graders gun safety though a course sponsored by the National Rifle Association.

Other laws include requiring school personnel to take part in “active shooter and intruder” drills and transferring the issuance of concealed carry permits from driver’s license clerks to sheriff’s departments.

But let’s get back to the first-graders. At first read I was appalled, imagining 6-year-olds on a firing range. But, after some research on NRA’s Eddie Eagle Gunsafe Program, I was impressed. The goal is to teach young elementary school students to stay the heck away from guns, which can be found in half of U.S. households, the NRA says. The program’s main teaching is that when kids come upon a firearm they should:





Seems to me this training, along with the shooter drills for teachers and staff, would make anyone responsible for school security happy and rest a little bit more easier at night. We’ve all heard about little kids bringing loaded guns to school to show them off.