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Uphill battle

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

I apologize about the infrequency of my blog posts this week. We've been finalizing our March issue this week (takes up more time than I'd like to admit) and I've been the sickest I've been in years. It is times like these I wish I could clone a healthier version of myself (I wonder if she'd be more productive too?)
Officials have been talking and talking and talking about the security plan at Ground Zero/WTC for seven years now. And I just came across another item today. The bad economy is forcing the NYPD to cut back on its plans to assign 800 officers to the area near Ground Zero and Wall Street.
The article from Newsday says that the move is a result of budget cuts and the fact that Freedom Tower is still facing significant delays.
Police commissioner Ray Kelly has warned from some time that budget restrictions could slow down plans to add manpower and install 3,000 security cameras. To date, 300 have been installed, the newspaper reported.
If the NYPD can't keep enough men on the street or secure enough money to fund projects already in motion to protect the site of this nation's most deadly terrorist attack, how can any department hope for funding? It's an uphill battle, folks.

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Security stimulation

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

So more news keeps coming in about the economic stimulus package. The House and Senate have reconciled the two versions of the bill and settled at $789 billion (less than the amount approved in either the House or the Senate), but it's still not clear what the final numbers are regarding security-related projects.

I've been in close contact with the folks over at the American Association of Airport Executives and they expect the reconciled numbers to stand at $1 billion for explosive detection equipment and $1.1 billion for airport improvement projects (although they were lobbying for $1 billion in EDS and $3 billion in AIP).

Also included in the bill are enhancements to seaports which the Senate passed for $40 billion and the House for $35 billion, but of course, the final numbers aren't known for that either.

Other security related projects expected to be included are funds for a new DHS headquarters (see earlier blog) and a couple hundred million for a border security fence, infrastructure and technology upgrades.

I'll keep you updated as reports are released.

Oklahoma!

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Friday, February 6, 2009

peanut2

In summer 2007, I had the great pleasure of visiting Oklahoma to view the security installations at a number of Choctaw Nation casinos. Along that fine journey with Frank Baitman, who was the president of Petards at the time, Brad Wills, CEO of Wills & Associates, and Dan Breshears, executive director of public safety for Choctaw Nation, we stopped at this historical landmark, which I've come to fondly remember as the Giant Peanut.

Although Durant, Okla., argues it is home to the world's largest peanut, I guess there is some controversy over that title.

Regardless, this is a reminder of one of my more memorable trips.

Looking for a new job?

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

The job board on the Security Director News Web site is now looking like a pretty fine place to search out new employment opportunities. If you saw the sorry state it was in last week, I do apologize.

Check out the new and improved version if you have a chance and leave any feedback/comments in the field below or e-mail me at editor@securitydirectornews.com.

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Just 'some guy's' opinion

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Former VP Dick Cheney is stirring up some controversy today. In an interview with Politico, he warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.

Some choice quotes:
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry."

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business. These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”

Hey, I'm Switzerland here but according to a recent Security Director NewsPoll, 44 percent of of readers said they thought Obama's national security team choices were poor. On the flip side, 25 percent ranked them as OK and 30 percent opined that the choices were great.

I may be simple minded but all I want is for our country to be safe. Is it as dirty of a job as Cheney expresses? Do you think his views are valid? Or is he just spewing negativity?
—Rhianna Daniels

House approves national office for campus security

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yesterday, the House approved the creation of a national office to help university security forces train for and prevent violent incidents. The National Center for Campus Public Safety, which would be run through the Justice Department's Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, would issue grants to campus safety agencies and encourage research into college safety and conduct training, according to this article by the Associated Press.

The bill, H.R. 748, had also cleared the House in the last session of Congress but was not taken up by the Senate. No word on when or if the Senate make take up this issue (I hear they have some important stuff going on at the moment). Look for more about this in our March issue.

A perfect storm

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm having one of those days when it seems like the sky is falling (is it possible it really is?) Stories like these make me feel better because they are really so sad yet so hilarious.

This is the story of Brandon Sanders, 23, who faces burglary, motor vehicle theft, resisting arrest, shoplifting, marijuana possession, trespassing and possession of counterfeit controlled substance charges (that is interesting mix, don't ya think?)

According to Delaware State Police, troopers were called to Christiana Mall around 2:30 p.m. Friday after mall security officers reported a shoplifter had stolen a mall security Ford Escape. The suspect then ditched the car and ran back into the Macy’s Department store. In a search of the store, Sanders was located in the department storage room hiding below storage shelves under a pile of towels, police said. (That is just awesome. I would have never thought to hide under some towels. Note to self.)

Police said Sanders had shoplifted about $250 worth of clothing from Macy’s before heading to Abercrombie & Fitch, where he stole a $50 bottle of cologne.

He must have needed to get spiffed up for some kind of event or special occasion. You know those ZZ Top lyrics: Every girl's crazy about a sharp dressed man? Well, now Sanders is spending his time at the Howard Young Correctional Institute in lieu of a $6,100 secured bond and ordered not to return to the mall.

Customs to curtains: So much change for DHS

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Monday, February 2, 2009

So not only is Janet Napolitano, the newly-appointed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, charged with keeping the country safe, she may also have to prove her decorating skills.

In January, the National Capital Planning Commission approved a master plan to develop a new headquarters for various departments in the Department of Homeland Security. I'm sure they won't make Napolitano pick out curtains or review paint swatches (she has far too many pressing matters and perhaps those details have been hashed out anyway, since this project has been in the works for three years), but, I do wonder if this project meshes with Napolitano's efforts to make her department more lean and efficient?

According to a CCN article:

Napolitano said she will be seeking areas where her department can save money but still accomplish its mission. She cited expenses for facilities and vehicle fleets as possible examples. "Are we as lean as we can be?" she asked. "My perception is, overall we're lean."

The new headquarters are slated to be developed from a 176-acre abandoned psychiatric hospital compound into a massive Homeland Security Department headquarters complex in southeast Washington, which will house 14,000 of Homeland Security’s 218,000 employees, according to this article in the Federal TImes.

The General Services Administration, which acquired the property in 2004, has spent $13 million to stabilize the buildings and protect them from further disrepair. But the facilities suffered from years of neglect and will require tens of millions of dollars in fixes.

The GSA has requested $346 million for the first phase, a new headquarters for the Coast Guard, and future phases will construct new facilities for the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

I don't know if that actually translates to being "lean," but I guess everyone has to live somewhere, right?

Good news, bad news

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

USA Today is reporting that the first federal evaluation of mass-transit security shows that more than 75 percent of U.S. rail and bus systems are not meeting homeland security guidelines.

The report found that 37 of the nation's 48 largest transit systems are not complying with voluntary guidelines developed in 2007. OK, well if they're voluntary and there are no penalties for non-compliance, why the heck would you comply. They're just "guidelines" anyway, right?

Not such good news for transit systems nationwide — the evaluations come at a time when new DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has pledged to focus on mass transit. Now that will equate to these systems spending some money on security upgrades, I would assume, and who knows where that will come from.

The report also found that 96 percent of airlines are complying the security regulations. Even is it still is "security theater". But those rules are MANDATORY. Comparing the percentage of airports and transit systems in compliance is like comparing apples and oranges, or a bad husband to a good one.
—Rhianna Daniels

Screening stimulus

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Here's an interesting opinion from the Wall Street Journal about the $1 billion included in the economic stimulus package for spending by DHS/TSA — $500 million of that money is earmarked for the TSA to spend on explosive detection systems and other checkpoint technologies.

The author points out that Rapiscan and Smiths Detection are the only manufacturers of these "advanced" x-ray machines (Advanced means better than what is used now at standard airport screening spots, I assume.) But there are other detection systems out there including the much talked about backscatter system from American Science and Engineering, and Brijot has a concealed weapons system. What about ICx Technologies? They play in that space as well.

Smiths and Rapiscan may benefit from this money, but I disagree that it is a "potential boon" for either business. TSA/DHS is entering a new era and the vague language in the stimulus package leaves the door open to spending that $500M on nontraditional technologies. —Rhianna Daniels

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