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Guards fail to keep guns out of government buildings

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One might assume that the government has it under control when it comes to keeping weapons out of its facilities, right? Well, apparently it just ain't so.

The Government Accountability Office just released a report that guards allowed prohibited items -- such as guns, knives and bombs -- into federal facilities two-thirds of the time in tests conducted by the Federal Protective Service, according to this Washington Post piece.

Maybe you missed that figure: Two-thirds of the time. Wow.

And it gets worse. The article says that guards also didn't seem to know what to do when they managed to stop a tester who was trying to sneak in some contraband. Didn't know what to do? I haven't taken any guard training courses, but I'm pretty sure the key is not to let them in.

The article blames some of these issues on the fact that many of the guards are contracted and that the Federal Protective Service (they're the agency in charge of the guards and conducted the tests) hasn't done a good job of tracking training and regulations for guards. Here are a few highlights for your reading pleasure:

-- Some contractors didn't comply with the terms of their contracts, and the FPS took no action against them. The GAO said the agency did nothing to seven contract companies who employed guards with expired certification and training requirements.

-- The agency apparently can't determine which guards have complied with requirements because, the report says, "FPS currently does not have a fully reliable system for monitoring and verifying whether its 15,000 guards have the certifications and training to stand post at federal facilities."

-- The FPS doesn't always evaluate guards properly. Not only did the seven contractors escape any sanction for not fulfilling the terms of their contracts, but the FPS also gave them ratings of satisfactory or better.

-- The FPS hasn't provided some guards with the required training on X-ray or magnetometer machines that are used to detect weapons. In July 2009, the GAO reported that 1,500 guards had not received the 16 hours of required training. As of February, they still had not, according to the GAO, although the FPS says they will by December.

Of course, the report doesn't name any of the contractors, but I would be interested to know because they certainly aren't making those in the guarding industry look very good. Shame on them.

Who goes there?

Friday, April 17, 2009

In the spirit of Friday, I like to post something a little silly, but still relevant to the world of security. This week's post came at a most unexpected time while I was babysitting my favorite two year old (I told you security really does follow me everywhere). Anyway, so we were winding down for the night and his absolute favorite show is the Backyardigans. Since I don't have kids and don't have cable, this series was completely new to me and low and behold this episode just happened to be about museum security guards. Both Seamus and I were enraptured by this, but probably for different reasons (he really likes the dancing part).

I had a discussion with Kevin O'Leary, the director of security at Maine General at a conference last year about his objection to the use of the term "guard." He feels very passionately about this topic and wrote a piece titled "'Don't call our security officers 'guards'" and I'm sure would not appreciate this episode or its depiction of security. Take a look, seriously, it's worth the view.

Just in case you missed some of those lyrics, I took the time to transcribe them for you:

Well better do my rounds
and make sure the museum is safe and sound

I'm on guard and I feel alright
gotta keep my eyes open stay alert all night
‘cause if there's any thieves in this old museum
I’ll have to chase them down, so I need to see ‘em

Look at all this ancient valuable stuff
I must protect it all is so I gotta be tough
I gotta stay stay awake and stay alert
with my security badge and my security shirt
but they don’t have a chance when I’m on the job
because I know how to chase them off yesiree bob

Not exactly the best message to send kids about the world of security, huh? Although, I have to say I think it's more constructive than all those security guard (I mean officer) movies hitting theaters. I mean, at least here they can dance, right?

Run, Security Guard, Run

Friday, March 28, 2008
Security is all around us. It's everywhere you look. And its certainly the focus on all our blogs here this week.
There's American Idol contestant Chikezie, also an airport security inspector; the movie 21 comes out today, which is "inspired by" the famous MIT card counting operation and how security at Las Vegas' casinos took down the ring (the preview shows a locked room and beating up one of them. Did that really happen?); and now there is Run, Fatboy, Run, a movie about a guy, who is a security guard for a women's retail store by trade, trying to win back the pregnant woman he left at the altar by running the London Marathon.

Complex plot, right?

Hey, it's Friday — check out the trailer.