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Bulletproof glass: Good for business?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

I heard an interesting item on NPR during my commute to the office this morning titled “Growing An Urban Neighborhood, One Store At A Time.”

It focused on a low-income area, Columbia Heights in Washington, D.C., and how it is working to attract businesses. One storeowner interviewed talked about opening a cellphone store a year ago on one of the area's crime-ridden streets. His shop also offers other goods that his customers want and need and that’s why he has been successful, he said.

Here’s what stood out for me, quoting directly from the NPR report:

“If it's that simple, why aren't restaurants and retailers popping up [here]?

“There's more than one answer here, but what it often boils down to is two words: bulletproof glass. Because for businesses, that often means two things: actual crime and the perception of crime.

“Crime is a concern here—Congress Heights had more than 100 violent crimes in the past year. But other trendier nightlife spots in the city have their own crime problems—and don't have the same reputation.

“This leads to the second issue, perception. Bulletproof glass signals to people in the community that the street isn't safe, creating a sort of feedback loop between perceived safety and actual safety.

"It's almost like if you don't have the confidence in your neighborhood to deserve a vibrant street, then you're not going to strive for it," says Heather Arnold, research director for the D.C. planning and design firm Streetsense.

“But [the cellphone store owner] insists that if you get to know your neighbors, the neighborhood will be a safe place to do business.

"I get to know the families. I know from the kids, the grandmothers, the parents. That's why I'm not behind bulletproof glass, whereas a lot of other businesses you go into, everyone has bulletproof glass," [the owner] says. "Why? What are you so afraid of?"

Food for thought, no?

First of all, how do customers know the store is protected by bulletproof glass? Are there warning signs posted? Is bulletproof glass a deterrent to crime yet also a deterrent to customers? What do you think is the answer?

I don’t live in a crime-ridden neighborhood, but I can’t help thinking, in my own humble opinion, that I wouldn’t be turned off if my local retailers had bullet-proof glass in place. I’d also like them to have storefront bollards to prevent the ever-increasing incidences of ram-raids.

Whatever safety measures retailers take is a plus, in my opinion. Is that just because I don’t live in a crime-ridden neighborhood?

What do you think? I look forward to hearing your answers.








Who's going to ISC West?

Friday, February 28, 2014

I'm gearing up for ISC West and have been checking out the educational offerings for end users. There's a wide range, those dealing with business acumen to those focusing on specific topics such as active shooters. All look great. Although the show floor is large and busy with lots of people to meet with, I hope to find some time to check out at least a few of those sessions.

If you'll be at the show, please let me know. I'd like to catch a time with you to hear what's utmost on your minds these days. What's impacting you as physical security professionals? What do you need to help you better do your jobs? 

If you'd like to meet, email me at or call me at 207-846-0600, ext. 227. Thanks!

Have a story to tell? Let me put you on camera at ISC West!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Will you be at ISC West in April? Do you have a physical security story to tell?

Each year at the show, Security Director News holds court at the ISC West Media Studio, just outside the main entrance to the show floor. You can’t miss us!

There, throughout the show, SDN does short video interviews with end users and others with successes to share or trending issues and concerns to relay.


I’m no Katie Couric, but I’d really appreciate the chance to sit down with you in front of the cameras to speak briefly. We post the video interviews on our website, and they’re always very popular. Your colleagues in the industry want to know what you have to say.

Last year the most popular video interviews I conducted included those with Brian Johnson on K-12 school surveillance [March Networks] in Escambia County, Fla., and with Berkley Trumbo, then-Sieman's national business manager for campus solutions, who spoke about security for higher ed.

I have a number of interviews planned for this year, but I’m looking for even more. Are you in banking, education, hospitals, retail? Love to hear from you! It’s time to toot your own horn or have your representatives do it for you.

Email me at or call me at 207-846-0600, ext. 227, as soon as you can if you’re interested.  

Thanks and I’ll see you in Vegas!


Your employee steals from you, do you report it to police?

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why don’t small business owners report employee theft to police?

According to a recent study by Jay Kennedy at the University of Cincinnati, there are four reasons.

1.    Business owners don’t see the thefts as being serious enough to report.

2.    Attorneys often advise the owners that it’s not worth the time, effort and money to prosecute.

3.    Relationships. Owners often well know the thief—and his or her family—and could even be related.

4.    Owners may think their local police force is unable to deal with complex financial thefts, or have more important crimes to deal with.

Kennedy’s study, according to Business News Daily and prepared statements from the University of Cincinnati, found that 64 percent of small businesses have experienced employee theft, but only 16 percent of those reported the incidents to police.

“It's important to look at this topic because such theft represents a loss to the tax base and would also seem to put such businesses at risk, and so, put our overall economy at risk," Kennedy was quoted as saying in the reports.

The most common item stolen was cash, at 40 percent, the report found. Those thefts ranged from $5 to $2 million, with an average of $20,000, Kennedy said in the reports. Eighteen percent of thefts were of products, 12 percent were materials, 8 percent were tools and 6 percent were equipment.

Most thefts occur over time, he said, by first-line employees. Only about 2 percent of cashiers are likely to be thieves, he said in the news report.

The study was based on surveys of 314 small business owners in Cincinnati. The businesses covered a range of industries, including the finance/banking; manufacturing; service; and restaurant/retail sectors.



DRN, Vigilant sue over Utah's LPR ban

Friday, February 14, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah—Digital Recognition Network Inc. and Vigilant Solutions Inc. have filed a federal lawsuit challenging Utah’s outright ban on automatic license plate readers.

The ban “arbitrarily prohibits an activity that is protected in all other settings and violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” the plaintiffs said in a prepared statement.

The Utah Automatic License Plate Reader System Act, which prohibits the use of automated high-speed cameras to photograph license plates in the state of Utah, infringes on constitutionally protected speech and causes the companies imminent and irreparable injury, the companies noted in a prepared statement.  The companies are calling for preliminary injunctive relief.

The case could have far-reaching national repercussions as more than 20 states are currently reviewing bills that would curb the use of license plate recognition systems for both private and law enforcement use, the companies noted in the statement. Further, five states have already enacted legislation that is identical or similar to the Utah act.

“Taking and distributing a photograph is an act that is fully protected by the first Amendment,” DRN / Vigilant outside counsel Michael Carvin said in the statement.  “The state of Utah cannot claim that photographing a license plate violates privacy. License plates are public by nature and contain no sensitive or private information. Any citizen of Utah can walk outside and photograph anything they please, including a license plate.”

DRN and Vigilant assert that their ALPR systems do the same exact thing any citizen can do – see license plates, interpret the alphanumeric characters, and mentally log where the license plate was seen.  ALPR systems can just complete the tasks much faster. 

“This law is ill-defined and clearly driven by a national anti-LPR campaign initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),” Mike Moore, former Mississippi State Attorney General and now head of the Mike Moore Law Firm, said in the statement.  “ALPR data has proven to be an invaluable tool for law enforcement to solve crimes and apprehend criminals while protecting the privacy of U.S. citizens and fully abiding by the U.S. Constitution. The Legislature has unknowingly created a potential safe haven for pedophiles, rapists, and other serious criminals by preventing law enforcement from having access to LPR data from private companies, and by requiring law enforcement to delete their own data—it just does not make sense from the perspective of the public safety of the citizens of Utah,” according to Moore.



'20 under 40' winners at Delray Beach!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We were so pleased to have 10 of our "20 under 40" winners in attendance at TechSec Solutions last month to receive their awards in person. Here's a photo of the impressive group.

From left to right, Adam Parker, director of loss prevention, Lamps Plus; Patrick Wood, enterprise manager, security integrations, John Deere & Co.; Chris Russell, director of security and assistant director of engineering, Montage Beverly Hills; Greg Black, senior systems administrator, Florida Power & Light; Ralph Nerette, manager, security services, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Mike Wiley, senior VP of security for Switch data centers; Ron Self, director of safety and security, Blytheville, Ark., Public Schools; Demerle Lewis, security manager, New York State Insurance Fund; Nicholas Santillo, director of operations security, American Water; and Dante Moriconi, physical security manager, L-3 Communication Systems-West.



2014 Boston race to be marathon of security

Monday, February 10, 2014

BOSTON—More barriers will be set up to separate Boston Marathon runners from spectators. The FBI will deploy a SWAT team. State police will use portable surveillance cameras along the route.

These are just some of the heightened security measures, as reported by The Boston Globe, for April’s Boston Marathon.

In the town of Hopkinton, where the marathon begins, spectators may not be allowed as close to the starting line as they have in the past, and vendors might face more scrutiny, the news report said. Other towns along the route have put new measures into place as well, the result of weekly marathon-based meetings of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, held since last August. More National Guardsmen will be armed.

Some 36,000 runners are expected at this year’s race, a year after the terrorist attack that killed three and injured 264.



Genetec's got a lot going on

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

MONTREAL—The Genetec 2014 Press Summit, the first ever, is a wrap after a day-and-a-half of presentations about the company co-founded by President Pierre Racz in a basement more than 15 years ago.

Racz kicked off the summit with an overview of the company, a global provider of unified IP security solutions, including video surveillance, access control and license plate recognition. Those solutions are aimed at the retail, transportation, education and gaming sectors. The cloud factors in big, as does federation, unification and hybridization.

Genetec is also making a push to be more in touch with end users so customers can help design products and help Genetec customize solutions for them. [More to come on that.]

Racz spoke of one end-user, a courthouse, that wanted a separate judges-only elevator for security reasons. Rather than put in a new elevator strictly for judges at high cost, Genetec installed an access control system that would allow a credentialed judge to enter and then shut down all floor buttons so that he or she could be alone in the elevator, without disruption, until reaching the destination floor.

Executive VP Alain Cote discussed the company’s driving focus in key areas: Continuing to expand and innovate video capabilities; increasing investment to grow Genetec’s share in the access control market; leveraging the cloud to develop new products and capabilities; and extending enterprise marketing offerings.

From there on out we heard from Genetec project managers and others about specific products, along with live demonstrations of its Security Center and its AutoVu License Plate Reader.

Interesting facts: Genetec has deployed more than 100,000 cameras in education settings. Its largest deployment of cameras in a single airport overseas? 12,000. At a U.S. airport, 2,000. 

All press participants at the summit, from the U.S., Canada and Europe, were provided personal access-control badges, which we had to use to get in and out of doors separating different departments within the, of course, highly secure headquarters building.

The company does practice what it preaches. Even at lunch.

In the company’s “Genetec Bistro,” an on-site eatery with surprisingly good, low-priced food (entrees about $2 Canadian each), we selected our choices and then paid our tabs by swiping our access cards and reporting via touchscreen what we’d put on our trays, just as the employees do every day. The money spent on food is deducted from the employees’ paychecks. No one has ever cheated, Genetec reps said. In fact, employees will sometimes report: Oh, I took a dessert today and forgot to swipe my card, so please charge my account.

An informative summit and a nice group of people, both Genetec folks and colleagues in security pubs, made for a worthwhile visit to Montreal, a delightful city, even in snowy and very frigid February. 

Stay tuned for more news from the summit on the Security Director News website.



Next Gen panel goes over big at TechSec

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—The first day of the TechSec Solutions conference was capped off with a two-part Next Gen Security Series: Security directors' perspective: Young security professionals' use of new technology on the job; and Security integrators' perspective: The changing landscape of security integration. Both were great panels.

Four of Security Director News’ “20 under 40” winners were on the directors panel: Adam Parker, director of loss prevention, Lamps Plus; Ron Self, director of safety and security, Blytheville, Ark., Public Schools; Nick Santillo, director, operations security, American Water; and Mike Wiley, senior VP of security, Switch data centers, Las Vegas. You can find profiles of each of the panelists by visiting and doing a simple search for them on the site by name. If you haven’t checked them out already, you’ll want to.

I had the pleasure of moderating this panel. Not only was I impressed with the intelligence of these four gentlemen, but also with the professionalism, integrity, determination and passion for their work that came through loud and clear despite their myriad on-the-job challenges.

Each panelist from across those different verticals talked in depth about those challenges. Parker, who is responsible for 43 high-end stores in seven western states, talked about mobile POS. Self, who protects six schools, 2,500 students and 450 employees, discussed his difficulties securing older buildings with too many entries and exits—and lots of keys. Santillo, who works for the largest investor-owned water utility in the United States, covering 16 states, addressed the challenge of bringing physical security information from multiple states, across 3,000 geographically separate assets, back to one centralized team. Wiley talked about his eight data centers, serving clients ranging from casinos, health care, banking, government to e-tailers and others, and how he gets those clients in and out of his highly secure facility without impeding them.

Collaborating with other departments within their specific entities was also a hot topic. Can you say IT? These folks say you can’t make it today in the physical security field if you don’t have a good relationship with IT. Self, who brought some of his IT folks with him to the conference, also works closely with his local police force.

The practical use of video analytics and biometrics was a common theme. Parker would like to be able to quickly identify fraudsters—from ORC members to individuals using stolen credit cards—from the moment they walk through one of his store’s doors and then get that information out to his other stores. Self uses biometrics at his schools to prevent students from getting more than one free lunch and would like to use it in the future to prevent employee time theft.

Another constant discussion point was seamless integration. Santillo spoke of leveraging his PSIM and using mobile technology for his access control system. Wiley said he has to keep many of his security systems separate, because he doesn’t want one going down to have an impact on the others. He'd like to see that change.

After the discussion, I heard from a number of audience members, from integrators to manufacturers to security directors, that the directors’ panel was informative and timely and provided much food for thought.

Following the integrators’ panel, Security Director News and Security Systems News honored the “20 under 40” winners in attendance at a reception.

SDN’s winners, in addition to the above four, who received their awards were:

·      Greg Black, senior systems administrator, Florida Power & Light

·      Demerle Lewis, security manager, New York State Insurance Fund

·      Dante Moriconi, physical security manager, L-3 Communication Systems West

·      Ralph Nerette, manager, security services, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston

·      Chris Russell, director of security and assistant director of engineering, Montage Beverly Hills

·      Patrick Wood, manager, security integration, John Deere & Co.

Other “20 under 40” winners who were unable to attend the ceremony are:

·      Jason Adams, national manager–organized retail crime Gap Inc. investigations department

·      Molly Broniak, loss prevention and security/managing investigator, Pennsylvania State Employee’s Credit Union

·      Mark Crosby, infrastructure security manager, NV Energy

·      Douglas Farber, security director, World Trade Center

·      Michael Lehmann, physical security specialist, Department of Veterans Affairs, Bath, N.Y.

·      Paul Michaels, director, office of program security, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Institute of Medicine, National Research Council

·      Kenneth Rasmussen, manager, security services, Waterbury Hospital

·      Natalie Runyon, security director, Thomson Reuters

·      Jason Stone, director of security, Collegiate School, Virginia

·      Brian Weaver, formerly senior asset protection specialist, Minneapolis Metro Transit Police Department


Again, you can read all about these up-and-coming industry leaders on


Day 2 of TechSec is almost here. Stay tuned!



Columbia mall adhered to shooter protocol

Monday, January 27, 2014

Retail security experts praised store employees at the Columbia, Md., mall for following proper protocol when gunshots rang out there Jan. 25.

A 19-year-old gunman killed two store employees before killing himself. Authorities Jan. 27 said they still are unclear of the shooter’s motive.

USA Today ran an article on the mall’s preparedness for such an event.

NRF VP Rich Mellor and Joseph LaRocca of RetailPartners told the newspaper that store managers and employees locked their front doors or gates and got everyone in the store into back rooms to wait for police to tell them it was OK to come out.

Store managers at the Columbia mall went through training conducted by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

It’s a good article, so check it out. (Even if it did misspell Mellor's name.)