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Off to TechSec 2014!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

One of the best parts of my job is interviewing our “20 under 40” winners.  I so enjoy talking to these young pros.

In a few days I will have the pleasure of meeting many of them in person.

We know how busy our winners are with their myriad responsibilities. That’s why we are so pleased that 10 of them were not already booked with other appointments and able to take time away from their packed schedules to sign up for the TechSec 2014 conference next week in Delray Beach, Fla.

These winners will make TechSec shine (even more)! As I’ve mentioned here before, when we read our feedback surveys from the conference, the NextGen panel and getting input from the “20 under 40” winners in general are always tops among the attendees’ five-star ratings.

I’ll be reporting on the keynote speaker Harold Grimsley’s talk and a number of the conference educational sessions.

I’ll also be blogging and Tweeting about it, as will my colleagues at Security Systems News, so please follow. The Twitter hashtag will be #TechSec2014. Keep in touch!

After TechSec I’ll be headed north to Canada for the Genetec Connect14 Press Summit in Montreal. More about that to come.




Purdue police chief praises quick response to active shooter

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Purdue University Police Chief John Cox has commended his officers, the West Lafayette, Ind., police and school authorities for their quick response to the Jan. 21 shooting on campus that left one student dead.

“Everyone did exactly what they should have done," he said in a CNN report. “You train and plan, and train and plan for one of these incidents and hope it never happens. But unfortunately, it did."

Cody Cousins, an undergraduate teaching assistant, allegedly sought out and fatally shot fellow teaching assistant Andrew Boldt in the Electrical Engineering Building on the Purdue Campus about 12:30 p.m. Cousins then surrendered to police outside the building.

The school sent text messages about the shooting to students, asking them to take shelter where they were. That request was lifted by 1:30 p.m., though the electrical engineering building remained closed so police could investigate.

The shooting at Purdue came a day after a student at Widener College in Chester, Pa., was shot on outside an athletic complex on the campus. The student called 911 after being shot in the side and reportedly is hospitalized in stable but critical condition. A Widener spokesman said the shooting was not a random act of violence.

The Widener suspect remains at large. Police were reviewing surveillance footage and using K-9 units to track the suspect, who they believe fled into a residential neighborhood adjacent to the athletic complex, on the edge of the campus.


Shopping couple foils ATM thieves

Monday, January 20, 2014

So here’s some good news for a Monday.

Alex Hamilton and Sara Chu helped police in McCall, Idaho, catch suspects trying to steal an ATM a few days ago.

The couple was leaving a grocery store when they saw, at a nearby bank, a truck chained to an ATM, according to CBS 12 News. At first they thought maybe the truck was taking the ATM in for repairs, but when the truck pulled forward and the ATM burst into flying pieces, they called 911.

They then followed the truck, all the while telling the police dispatcher where it was headed. When the police showed up, however, the dispatcher told them to get out of the area immediately, the news report said. Fortunately, they followed her advice, because the robbers started shooting at the officers and disabled all their vehicles.

The ATM thieves are now in custody in Utah and are suspects in similar crimes throughout the country, the McCall police chief told the CBS 12.

Great work on both fronts, Alex and Sara, both in giving the police directions and following police directions!



Ram raider wasn't after an Apple product, just another type of fruit

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I’ve written about ram raids before, where vehicles are used to plow into storefronts for destructive robberies. Convenience stores, especially those with ATMs inside; pawn shops; and jewelers are likely victims. Ram raiders even target pet stores.

There’s also been a high incidence of ram raids at Apple stores where the culprits smash and grab expensive computers, tablets and phones. But this man in Connecticut apparently wasn’t looking for an Apple product. No, he was looking for a banana.  Yes, a banana.

I’ll quote directly from an NBC Connecticut news report:

“Police in Newington are looking for the man who they said committed a bizarre crime early this morning when he backed an SUV into a Connecticut gas station, stole a banana, ate and left in the damaged vehicle.

“Police responded to the Citgo Gas Station, located at 502 Cedar St.,, after a burglary alarm went off at 1:48 a.m. [Jan. 9] and noticed extensive damage to the doors, police said. 

“When they reviewed surveillance video, they saw a light-colored Ford Freestyle station wagon with Connecticut registration plates back into the store door several times and break the glass.

“Then, a man went into the store, took a banana from a shelf, peeled it, ate the fruit and left the store, police said. 

“The man was not wearing a mask, did not try to conceal his face and did not take anything else, police said.” [Emphasis on: "did not take anything else."]

A photo of the suspect, posted by the NBC Connecticut website, shows him quite clearly. He took off in the same SUV that smashed into the gas station.

Ram raids are a serious threat to the retail industry, and I don’t mean to make light of this threat for a second. Thank goodness there was no one inside the gas station at the time who could have been injured. But, again, all that for a banana? Did the thief destroy the storefront and once inside undergo a stroke of conscience and then just decided to grab a banana for his efforts? Or did he simply have a very, very strong hankering for a banana?

Can’t wait to learn about his thought process and. I’ll keep you posted.  





TechSec's coming fast!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Today I posted five more profiles of our prestigious "20 under 40" winners. I only have five more left to post, which means the TechSec conference is not far away.

After talking with these young professionals over the last few months, I am so looking forward to meeting them in person. Last year, my first time at TechSec, I learned a lot from our winners and called on them many times after as sources for articles I was writing for Security Director News. Each and every one of them, both those I met last year and those I 've spoken to this time around, are smart, personable and passionate about what they do. You can't ask for more than that. Their employers should be extremely proud.

I am excited to once again moderate a Next Gen Security Series panel titled, Security directors' perspective: Young security professionals' use of new technology on the job. This panel, featuring four of our "20 under 40" winners, is a highlight of the show.

There's still time to register for the TechSec conference that will be held at the end of this month. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, great educational sessions are planned—check them out—and this is not a conference that tries to sell you on any particular system or solution. It's all about learning and sharing ideas, and there's plenty of time for some fun, too. [And I can tell you that after these first days of January in Maine, I'm also looking forward to a little sunshine and beachtime.]

Congratulations again to SDN's "20 under 40" winners!






Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Friday, December 20, 2013

We here at Security Director News would like to wish all of our sources and our readers very, very happy holidays. Thank you for a great year. We have enjoyed speaking with you about trends, successes and challenges. We’ve appreciated your comments on SDN articles and look forward to more of your feedback.

Here’s hoping that 2014, along with the improving economy, will bring more security—along with more funding—to schools from K-12 to the university level, a decrease in organized retail crime due to all the great efforts out there, fewer risks at hospitals for both patients and staff and more technology to banks to protect customers and employees.

We believe the future of the physical security industry is in the greatest of hands, as evidenced by our new batch of “20 under 40” winners. They are dedicated and passionate about their roles.

The new year is looking bright.


Are armed school guards the answer?

Monday, December 16, 2013

It took 80 seconds for 18-year-old student Karl Halverson Pierson to enter Arapahoe High School on Dec. 13 in Centennial, Colo., and critically injure a fellow student.

At that one minute and 20 second mark, the heavily armed gunman knew that an armed guard was coming after him, and he fatally shot himself.

School officials and local law enforcement authorities say the fact that there was an armed guard at the 2,229-student school with 70 classrooms potentially saved many more lives.

Arapahoe is not far from Columbine, where in 1999, two students killed 12 fellow students and one teacher and injured 24 others.

What do you think? Are armed guards the answer?




Newton anniversary, where are we?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tomorrow, Dec. 14, marks the one-year anniversary of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Twenty young children and six adults were killed by a heavily armed gunman, who reportedly was mentally ill.

The mainstream media has been all over the story these days, following up on the devastated families’ lives a year later, the mood of the town, the remembrances planned and so forth.

But an important fact I think needs to be pointed out is that since that tragic day, there have been 26 more school shootings in the United States. That’s according to the organizations Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Even as I write this, I've been monitoring news reports about a gunman inside a high school in Centennial, Colo. Injuries were reported.

Over the past year, I have written numerous stories about what schools are doing to protect students and staff in the wake of Newtown. Many upgraded their security systems, some trained staff and children to “Run, Hide, Fight,” a controversial approach. After Newtown, more than 450 state bills were introduced, ranging from measures to allow teachers to arm themselves or put armed guards in schools.

What hits home with me are the sentiments I heard from a number of my school security sources. Knee-jerk reactions don’t work. Security at schools everywhere should have been in place long before Newtown and should continuously be revisited and upgraded when necessary. You don’t have to be Fort Knox.  Build relationships with local enforcement. And, above all, train, train, train.

We here at Security Director News send again our condolences to those whose lives were affected by the shootings a year ago tomorrow, hoping we won’t have to hear about another similar event.



Fire system can do much more

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

NORTHFORD, Conn.—I spent an enjoyable and very educational day here, Dec. 10, at Honeywell Life Safety HQ. The purpose for the visit was a briefing on Honeywell’s efforts to expand its fire systems to include emergency communications, digital signage and outdoor audio.

Gamewell-FCI by Honeywell’s new touch-screen fire alarm panel, which is designed to simplify operations for security directors and first responders, can make that happen, Honeywell leaders said.

Todd Reif, Honeywell Fire Systems president for the Americas, started the day off by outlining the evolution of the company’s fire alarm systems. He started with the master box—those red and white pull-lever boxes you see on street corners and on the exterior of buildings, and which Honeywell still manufactures— I watched that in action during a tour of the massive factory—to its new, small, addressable system S3 Series Fire Alarm system that features an intuitive touch screen with icons resembling those on smartphones.

It is the first of its kind in the industry, Reif said.

Fire technology should also be able to deal with emergency notifications, bad weather warnings and “bad guys,” he said. Once the technology is “harnessed and shaped,” there are multiple opportunities for end users, including those in the retail, hospitality, small medical facilities and schools.

The company is trying to take the “Fear of the Fire Alarm” factor away from end users. Too often, with big, multi-button fire panels, people are scared to touch anything. “They say, ‘What is going on? Who do I need to call? I don’t want the fire trucks to roll if I press the wrong button or I just want to shut this up,’ ” said Brian Carlson, manager of strategic marketing for Gamewell-FCI. Those concerns come despite the fact the user had been trained in the system, but maybe that was a year or so ago.

It’s the “floating finger syndrome,” Carlson says. It usually takes someone two minutes from the time they get to the panel before they even push a button. He knows because he’s visited hundreds of end users and studied them as they responded to an incident.

The S3 series features only eight buttons.

We heard two other great talks about mass notification and situational awareness that I will write about soon in more detail. So stay tuned….



Y-12 nun, two other protesters await sentencing; construction issues, too

Friday, December 6, 2013

The now 83-year-old nun, 64-year-old gardener and 58-year-old housepainter who were found guilty of breaching security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., in July 2012 remain behind bars, awaiting sentencing.

The three peace demonstrators were found guilty last May on felony charges for cutting through a fence and defacing property at the maximum security uranium processing facility. Reportedly, they were undetected by the majority of the perimeter surveillance equipment, ground sensors, security guards and canine patrols.

A sabotage charge against each of them carries a maximum prison term of up to 20 years; the damaged property charge has a penalty of up to 10 years. Sentencing was initially scheduled for this fall but has since been rescheduled for Jan. 24.

Security experts have called the break-in the biggest security breach in the nation’s atomic history. The Department of Energy investigated and released a special report on the facility’s security failings, including inoperable security equipment, an inadequate security force, no timetables for the maintenance of security equipment, and lack of physical barriers. Previous studies said the problems had been present for 10 years, according to an article from Robert Lee Maril, sociology professor at East Carolina University.

And there’s more about some other seemingly major Y-12 problems, regarding the construction of a new new facility to be built at Y-12.

Maril writes:

In summary, the same two business entities, Bechtel Corporation and Babcock and Wilcox Company, tasked with security at Y-12, a security system breached by an octogenarian nun and two other senior citizens, are also the same two business enterprises in charge of the planning and design of the new facility, UPF, to be built at Y-12 (estimated total security costs at Y-12 at the time of the breach in 2012 were $150 million). To date, costs for the planning and design of UPF have risen in 2012 to $6.5 billion from approximately $1.1 billion in 2004. Several months after the security breach at Y-12, these same two corporations, Bechtel Corporation and Babcock and Wilcox Company, were named as the primary construction contractors for UPF at Y-12. At this time the NNSA refuses to provide taxpayers with the construction costs of the UPF until 2015.”

Food for thought?

You can read more about how the break-in and its impact played out on