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Did you hear the rumors?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Associated Press is reporting that the Obama administration has selected a director for the Transportation Security Administration. I mean, it's only been eight months since Kip Hawley ended his term - these things take time, people.

Rumor has it (although is it considered a rumor if the AP reports it?) that former FBI special agent Erroll Southers has been chosen for the post, although there's been no formal announcement made by the administration.

Southers is a former police detective and deputy director of California's homeland security office, charged with overseeing counter-terrorism policies. He was also the assistant chief of intelligence and emergency for Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that operates LAX, so he likely knows his way around an airport. Southers currently teaches at the University of Southern California.

Southers would be the fifth man to run the TSA and would need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Stay tuned...

Do we need security in gyms now?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

After I read an article about the shooting yesterday in a gym in Pittsburgh that killed four women and injured nine more, I couldn't help but feel a sense of helplessness. I know this is yet another case of an unstable person getting a hold of a gun and taking out all his social inadequacies on innocent people, but it just doesn't seem fair. Is there really any way to protect against these kinds of incidents? We can't start hiring security officers at gyms, can we? I mean that's just preposterous. I have a hard time waiting in line to scan my card, I certainly don't want to wait for some guy to look through my sweaty gym bag to make sure I'm not packing a gun.

But what's the solution? Will the crazy people always win? I'm sure there's been a lot of thwarted incidents that never make the news, and that gives me hope, but I can't help but feel that security will never be able to do enough.

The public: Security dummies?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sometimes those of us involved in the security industry get a little high and mighty about what we consider as having a superior knowledge and understanding of security. And, largely for good reason, of course. If you think and talk about security all day, you're likely to be more aware of security measures than the average Joe.

However, I found a recent speech by Janet Napolitano to be fairly humbling as she discussed the importance of engaging the public in matters of security.

“For too long, we’ve treated the public as a liability to be protected rather than as an asset in our nation’s collective security,” Ms. Napolitano said in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “This approach, unfortunately, has allowed confusion, anxiety and fear to linger.”

During her speech, she encouraged voluntary participation in local emergency preparedness programs and said it was important that Americans be educated on how to be more aware of terrorism risks. But she acknowledged that at present there was no educational program in place.

Image that? Imagine a public who participated with their local police departments or even within their businesses about matters of emergency preparedness? I'm sure that if people knew what to expect and understood their role, events like Hurricane Katrina would have been far less devastating. I find the concept of the public as an asset rather than a liability quite refreshing. I know it sounds lofty, but wouldn't it be beneficial for our national security program to offer the public some sort of tax credit, for example, in exchange for participating in a few nights of local emergency preparedness training? Crazy talk, I know.

Also during her speech, Napolitano talked about the importance of fusion centers (which I've had a recent infatuation with, by the way, and am flying into Anaheim early on Sunday to make sure I can get a tour of the Norwalk Fusion Center as part of ASIS International). If I wasn't working in this industry, I would never have heard of such a thing, but why shouldn't the public know more about this? Why shouldn't there be a public line into these centers where members of the public can report suspicious activity? I know that's a lot to read into for one speech, but I think these are the kinds of discussions those charged with security the public must have in order to even come close to reaching a true national security program.

Big money for more transit officers

Thursday, July 30, 2009

So, I feel like a bit of DHS spokesperson lately, but there's just a lot of security-related news coming out of the department these days. For example, Napolitano announced yesterday that $78 million in ARRA money has been allocated to adding more security officers and equipment to our country's transit systems.

The biggest chunk of money is going to the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority ($35.9 million), followed by $9.56 million to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and $6.34 million to AMTRAK.

The press release specifies that the grants will be used for anti-terrorism teams (both overt and covert), explosive detection canine teams and mobile explosives detection screening teams that, I'm assuming, will be deploying some of the technology that DHS has been piloting in recent months.

Airports get video systems courtesy ARRA

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

DHS announced today that it has designated $7.7 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for several airports to install video surveillance systems. The press release cites that Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International, Ronald Reagan Washington National, Spokane International, Gerald R. Ford International and Boise, Idaho airports will receive a portion of the funds.

"State-of-the-art surveillance technology provides another critical layer of security at our airports," said Secretary Napolitano. "These projects will inject critical Recovery Act dollars into our local economies and create sophisticated security networks designed to detect threats and aid our emergency response efforts."

I don't exactly buy the injection of money into the local economy part, but do think it's important for airports to have solid video surveillance systems.

According to the release, ARRA has committed more than $3 billion for homeland security projects through DHS and the General Services Administration (GSA). Of the $1 billion allocated to TSA for aviation security projects, $700 million is dedicated to screening checked baggage and $300 million is allocated for checkpoint explosives detection technology.

DHS has obligated more than 20 percent of its ARRA funds to date, and is on track to obligate more than 50 percent by the end of September 2009.

See you in Anaheim?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

This is my informal poll to see who is attending the upcoming ASIS Seminar in Anaheim, Calif.
Click the comment box and write yes, no or undecided. We will select one respondent at random who will receive a prize for voting.

Thanks for playing and see you in Anaheim!

DHS gets a new look

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Department of Homeland Security is making all kinds of changes these days. The latest is that they've revamped their Web site. To be quite honest, I can't remember what the old page looked like, but the new one seems fairly user friendly.

According to the press release, it's just one more step in how the department is trying to stay in touch with the public. Even more interesting, is that DHS has launched their own youtube Web site. I didn't have much time to watch the videos, but for the most part, they stress things like making sure your family is prepared for an emergency (and pointing out that most of us are not) as well as sharing with the public all the job opportunities available through the department.

In other DHS news, they just had the first quarterly meeting of the Federal Law Enforcement Advisory Board. There was no specific information regarding discussion or outcomes of the meeting, but I hope to make a few phone calls to see what was discussed (and if it's relevant to you out there in the security world). “By bringing together the different organizations that represent federal law enforcement, [Secretary Napolitano] recognizes the real value of the boots-on-the-ground perspective," said Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.


Are we too structured?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I think this image that outlines the government's oversight of DHS speaks volumes:


But the article is also interesting as well. (And you can look at a larger version of the photo there as well. I tried to insert a larger one but it took up the whole page.)

Welcome to fabulous ... is that a Pelco camera?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I've been shipping our August issue the past few days and have fallen behind on my blogging. Imagine my surprise when I checked out my news alerts today and saw that the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign was vandalized. Who the heck would do that?

Well this article has informed me that the sign is back to being as good as new. I'm breathing a sigh of relief.

There's some talk about adding a camera to watch over the sign, but officials are afraid the aesthetics of the sign outweigh the need for security.

Because Young Electric Sign Company owns just the sign, it would have to either mount a camera to it, or get permission from the county to put surveillance cameras nearby — one option would be unattractive, Clark said, and the other expensive and unnecessary, given the sign’s otherwise unblemished history.
County public works spokesman Davis agrees: “So far, (the graffiti) doesn’t justify it — not for one instance.”

I think a trip to Vegas is needed to effectively assess the sign's security needs. I hereby volunteer.

Let's stereotype like its 1984

Friday, July 10, 2009

Got my July Security Management yesterday.


Same illustrator as this one?

Is it just me, or are these stereotypes so 1984?