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Why is everyone always picking on me?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Well, there's a big security issue dominating the airwaves (NPR). News organizations (Boston Herald, OC Weekly) are talking about it, partly due to an op-ed piece submitted by AlliedBarton. The issue: Mall security guards are being misrepresented by Hollywood's portrayal of the "dopey" mall cop.

I know some of you saw Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which was released late last year. And if that wasn't enough mall security humor for you there is this weekend's Observe and Report, starring Seth Rogan, the hilarious guy from Knocked Up.

Do these movies portray mall guards in a less than perfect light? Yes. Does it harm the industry? Maybe. The public's view of security? Potentially. Is it funny? I guess you'll have to judge for yourself.

Hey, it must be a slow news day. I can imagine the budget meeting now.
Editor: Jimmy, what do you have for front page?
Jimmy: Well, we could lead with the pirate/hostage situation in Somalia especially since the captain being held hostage is from our great city.
Editor: Been done too many times. Next idea?
Jimmy: There was the job fair that stopped traffic yesterday. Nearly 10,000 people showed up.
Editor: Eh, that's not news — everyone knows were in the middle of a recession!
Jimmy: Well, there is that movie coming out this week about security guards.
Editor: That comedy that is like Paul Blart. Hmmm ... we could write an article on how Hollywood is picking on security guards. Perfect! Make some calls.

Hey, I don't condone making fun of any type of security guard. I have complete respect for them and the jobs they do on a daily basis, especially in llight of the fact that malls are an active shooter target. But let's be real: Every profession has been made fun of in the movies at one time or another. Journalists, editors, CEOs, police, you name it. We're are in the middle of some very tough economic times and we have to laugh sometimes and sometimes, that is going to be at someones expense.

We can't take ourselves too seriously. If we did, then we'd really be in trouble.

Security blunders

Friday, April 10, 2009

Somehow my conversations with friends keep steering towards the need for people to be more security conscious. I'm sure my recent grocery store experience (see previous blog) has largely contributed to this topic of discussion, but it's been interesting to hear how security plays a role in other people's lives (by other people, I mean people who don't think about security on a daily basis). So far, my impression is that it usually takes an event before someone becomes aware of security.

Anyway, here's a "fun" Friday example of someone who should be uber-conscious of security, instead being totally and completely negligent when it comes to security protocol. Here's the first graph:

Britain's top counter-terrorism official resigned Thursday after committing an embarrassing breach of security that forced police to prematurely launch raids against suspected Al Qaeda plotters.

This top-gun security official was photographed and videotaped carrying (yes carrying in his hands) top secret documents "whose contents about a terrorist investigation were clearly visible." I mean, honestly, who just carries documents around? You know this guy owns a briefcase or can at least get his hands on a plastic bag or something. Just ridiculous. As a result of the "security breach" police ran several raids just hours later knowing that the information on who they were targeting was out on the streets.

Quick, a 30-year police veteran, acknowledged his blunder in a statement, saying he regretted "the disruption caused to colleagues undertaking the operation" and was "grateful for the way in which they adapted quickly and professionally to a revised time scale."

Well, they really had no choice, did they? This guy probably put a lot of people in jeopardy. I guess it goes to show that even the most security-conscious of us still have a lot to work on.

How does this happen?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

After spending some time at Lamborghini's in Las Vegas last week, I am finding this news pretty shocking.

Businessman Eric Vargosko thought nothing of it (first mistake) when he handed the keys to his rare Lamborghini Gallardo Spider to the valet at the InterContinental in Atlanta's tony Buckhead section about two months ago, according to Atlanta TV station WSBTV. But by the time he checked out the next morning, the car had vanished.
It was found a month later - damaged.

How does a $284,000 car just walk (drive) out the door? (especially a car as flashy as this) Where was the Intercontinental's security department? What will happen to that valet? Is this all an insurance scam?

Here's the quote from the hotel:
"The hotel is doing everything they can to support the investigation and they are working with the insurance company," says Francie Schulwolf of InterContinental. "It’s a very unfortunate incident for the owner and hotel."

You can say that again. Better keep my Volvo away from the Intercontinental's valet staff. Now that baby is worth some big bucks.


My job followed me to the grocery store

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm a big fan of maintaining a separation between my work and personal life, but when you talk, write and think about security five days a week, sometimes it follows you home.

Take my routine visit to the grocery store, for example. I ran in with a friend to grab some food for dinner and while we were trying to decide on salsa I noticed a man in a heavy coat and wool hat staring at us. Granted, it's Maine in April, so it's not exactly balmy out, but nobody's sporting heavy winter gear anymore, so just the look of this guy was enough to make me suspicious. We moved along to the next aisle trying to ignore him, but sure enough he was standing there staring at us. He didn't have a cart or basket and was only half pretending to look at items, so I knew this guy wasn't at Hannaford's for the produce selection. My friend and I hurried to grab what we needed and went to check out.

As I was paying, a conversation I had had earlier with a security director of a transit authority came back to me: 'Security is everyone's responsibility' and 'If it doesn't look right, it probably isn't.' I couldn't ignore my security "training", so I approached a manager and told him about the guy, the whole time scanning the check-out lanes hoping he wasn't going to see me. The manager paged security and I don't know what happened after that, but I felt good knowing I had acted on my intuition and perhaps contributed to the safety and security of others. Sometimes it's a good thing to take work home (just don't tell my boss that).

My ISC West review

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm back in the office after a whirlwind week in Vegas for ISC West. Here are my main takeways:

*Vegas is always a good place to hold a conference. Regardless of the talk of how show attendance was going to be down, it was still quite well-attended. Some people who attended the CTIA show being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the same days as ISC said traffic was considerably down as compared to last year. But security? The industry is not recession proof by any means but if the show is any indication, it is still pretty fairly strong.

*SDNtvNews is good. Not only are we bringing our readers interviews directly form the show floor but we are spending additional time at the booth, which allows us more direct contact with our readers. And because I was not running around the show floor as much, it saved my feet ... just a little.

* Twitter does actually work for event micro-blogging. And it works to let people know of "super secret" cocktail parties. And it helps you meet new people. That's not too shabby in my opinion.

*I didn't get much time to explore the Public Safety and Security Expo but it looked pretty much like Urban Security did last year. Anyone find it different? Extremely useful? Or was it just a waste of space?

*Parties were light this year. I've never been invited to the Pelco party so I was really surprised when I wasn't invited again this year. Missed the GE party — really not sure why — and I wish I hadn't (would have saved me in a sense). The Tyco and OV receptions were lovely as was DM's get together at Tao.

And now, on to your regularly scheduled work day.


Take your guns to school, son?

Monday, April 6, 2009

The long debated issue about whether registered gun owners should be allowed to bring guns on college campuses has reached the Texas legislature, reported the Brownsville Herald. I know Texas has a thing for guns, but I bet if you ask the security director of Virginia Tech, the answer would an unwaivering no. After all, Seung-Hui Cho, the student who killed 32 people in 2007 was a licensed gun owner.

The argument for guns on campus always seems a little counterintuitive to me. Here's a quote from the article:

Proponents of the bill view it as a way to preserve gun owners' rights while promoting safety on campus, arguing that if students or staff on campus had weapons, they would have a better chance defending themselves against a Virginia Tech-style shooting.

I've never talked to a college security director who promotes guns on campus, but I bet there are some out there. (If you're one them you should share your opinion with me, it could be a great story). Although guns can certainly provide protection and security (or a sense of these anyway) I don't think I'd feel comfortable knowing the guy next to me at the library who's strung out from days of cramming, too much caffeine and not enough sleep could be packing heat.

Very quick ISC West, day 2, overview

Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm running behind this morning (what else is new) so this is my super quick ISC West, day 2.

*Great panel in the morning about Panduit Corp.'s decision to integrate all its services — security, fire, lighting, HVAC, etc. — onto the same network.

*The Meet the Press panel I was part of was surprisingly well attended, although I'm sure the free lunch was part of the reason people stopped by.

*Completed three SDNtvNews interviews. Look for discussions with DM's Mark Provinsal, ADT's Hank Monaco and VideoIQ's Scott Schnell on our website this afternoon.

*Pleasantly surprised by the people that turned out for our informal get-together last night at the TI bar. We only promoted it through Twitter and the blog (and some direct invitations). This social media stuff does work after all, although what the overall business value is will be determined over time. Most of the group left their corporate IDs at the door, which was best considering the many "off the record" conversations taking place.

*Last day of the show today — this week has flown by and looking forward to resting once all the work is done.


Senator says Toronto airport needs to get "off its ass" and step up security

Friday, April 3, 2009

*Updated 04/06/09*
Ok, so I'm a blogging fool lately (and the boss isn't even in the office, go figure), but good blog topics just keep arriving in my inbox.

I just read an article about a security review being issued for Pearson International Airport in Toronto by the Transport Minister after he was allowed to walk unchallenged onto the tarmac. That's a big security oops.

A clearly unhappy Baird today warned the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, the airport's operator, to take the security breach seriously.

"There were doors that were unlocked, no security present that would allow anyone from the street to be able to walk in," Baird told reporters. "What I saw was simply unacceptable. And if the Toronto airport authority doesn't share that view, that causes me even more concern," Baird said.

Here's some even harsher words from Senator Colin Kenny who was with Baird during the test of airport security, who said the airport authority needs to get "off its ass" and step up vigilance.

"The bottom line is they have been doing a lousy job in security at the airport," he said in an interview with the paper.

You may recall I wrote an article not long ago about Toronto Pearson in regards to the streamlining of their credentialing system (also there's a video on sdnTVnews with Quantum's Laurie Aaron about the project), and it sounded like the airport was taking measures to improve its security and make it as efficient as possible. Apparently they missed a few steps though.

EDITORIAL UPDATE: Here's a response by from the higher ups at the airport authority.

"Through training, education, changes to policies and protocols, we will improve airport security," wrote Lloyd McCoomb, president and CEO of the airport authority, in a response letter to the public. "I fully expect to hear commentary about people's perception of security at the airport and I anticipate additional criticism from all quarters. I expect to be challenged and I should be challenged."

Sounds like this incident was enough to get the authority up and off their...

Radford Uni. in the clear after shooting, lockdown

Friday, April 3, 2009

A fatal shooting near Radford University in Virginia caused the school to go into lockdown last night for about five hours, according to the Washington Post. While there are only preliminary reports about the incident, the article said that students were notified via e-mail, text message and voice mail to stay inside and lock their doors. And while all campus security directors hope never to have to use their mass notification system (as I'm assuming this is), it's always beneficial to know that the system is effective at spreading the word during an incident. I'm going to give it a few days before I give Radford a call to see how effective their notification system actually was at reaching out to students, but Radford University isn't far from Virginia Tech, so I'm sure students and staff are especially sensitive to this type of incident.


Portland Jetport gets some action

Friday, April 3, 2009

It's not very often we get some security excitement here in Maine, so I thought it was worthy of a quick blog entry. Today the Portland Jetport (and yes, that means only small planes fly in and out of the 11-gate terminal) had to be evacuated upon suspicion of an explosive device which was detected in a passenger's carry-on luggage.

As of the latest news report, I guess all is clear and it was just an "unidentifiable electronic device" but the Portland Bomb Squad (we have a bomb squad!) had to use a robot to remove the bag from the x-ray machine. And, they were planning to blow up the bag, but news reports say authorities were seen carrying the bag into a squad card, so I guess that means no fireworks.

Normally, I would grab the sdnTVnews camera and head out to the Jetport for some live reporting, but alas, the camera is in Vegas with the rest of the staff, so I can't bring you any live footage. However, in the spirit of Vegas, the three of us have some bets going about what we think this device actually is. Here's what we're thinking:

- vibrating neck pillow
- electric shaver
- Tickle Me Elmo
- iPod
- blender

I'll let you know after I watch the 6 o'clock local news (which is always a treat anyway).

I called it. According to a news report this morning, the "mysterious" electronic device that caused the evacuation and three-hour delay ended up being a "jumble of electronics", including an iPod. Wow, my reporter instincts are impressive. Here's another article about the incident, in case you're really intrigued. Oh, and the good news: The bag's owner wasn't arrested and was even allowed to catch his flight. My bet is he'll never pack his iPod quite the same way, though.