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SimplexGrinnell appoints new president


WESTMINSTER, Mass.—Robert Chauvin, a 30-year veteran of SimplexGrinnell will take over as president on Oct. 1., the company announced today.

Discovery Channel gunman takes workplace violence to a new level. Are you truly prepared?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I can't even keep up with the number of incidents involving workplace violence lately. While there are a number of themes that apply to most security professionals, preparing for and preventing workplace violence is one that seems to cross all sectors and should be at the top of the list for everyone charged with security. And, for the most part, I think it is. However, there is only so much one can do.

I just read a series of articles about the frightening attack at the Discovery Channel headquarters, where a man stormed the building with firearms and explosives strapped to his body. He took several hostages during the four-hour standoff, in which he was eventually shot and killed by the SWAT team.

Apparently, this man had threatened the television channel before over the quality of its programming and in February 2008 he had been charged with disorderly conduct for staging a protest. From that incident he had been ordered to stay away from the headquarters, but that restraining order ended two weeks ago. None of the hostages were hurt.

However, the extreme nature of this incident should certainly be concerning for security professionals. While I think most organizations have addressed violence in their policies and procedures, to what level should they go to be prepared?

I recently posted what I thought was a really interesting article about AutoZone's effort to prepare for an active shooter in its facilities. They have even gone so far as to designate "safe rooms" that can be barricaded from the inside and are stocked with medical supplies and food and water for those who can't evacuate the building. They also have an extensive training program for employees including a game they refer to as the "what if?" game. Basically, it's an exercise to get employees to think about how they would react if, for example, an armed shooter came down the hall right now. What would you do? Where would you hide? Where are the closest two exits? Actually, it's something I've started doing regularly myself and coincides with what my grandfather taught me as a kid. He was a Cincinnati firefighter and I remember him quizzing me when we'd go out about what I would do if there was a fire. He said that if you're in a restaurant/bar always go out through the kitchen. There's always an exit back there and a better chance you'll get out quicker than trying to fight through the crowd to go out the main entrance. Thanks for being so on top of it, Grandpa.

But I wonder: Is AutoZone's approach to workplace violence over the top? I'm guessing most organizations don't go this far, but should they? What are you doing to make sure that in the worst case scenario your organization and its employees are truly prepared?

All things ISC West - Let's talk

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's slightly more than a month away, but I'm officially gearing up for this year's ISC West Conference & Expo in Las Vegas on March 23-26. While I typically spend these three days sprinting from one 20-minute appointment to the next, this year I'm trying to be smarter about it and generate more content for those who can't attend.

While I think SDN does a great job of sharing information through traditional media resources (i.e. articles), one of our most valuable offerings has become sdnTVnews. And these trade shows represent a rare opportunity to have a vast assortment of security professionals in one place at one time. Here at SDN we've tried to maximize on that opportunity by sitting down and talking to security professionals, one on one, and hearing straight from them about the issues they face, the solutions they use and where they see the security profession heading. It's that simple.

And we've generated some of our best content at these shows. If you don't believe me, here's the proof:

My discussion with Sergeant Chris Kovac of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department about the city's approach to surveillance got 5,488 views. I know. Wow.

What about my interview with Chief James Overton of Delaware State University about the challenges of campus security and the strategies he uses. That got 760 views.

Want to know more about port security? Hear it directly from security professionals at the Port of Houston or the Port of Long Beach. Combined they got nearly 1,000 hits.

But, I'm not using this opportunity to brag about how great we are here (although if my boss is reading this, I sure could use a raise for all the traffic I've generated). Rather, I'm making a point that security professionals want to hear from other security professionals. They want to know what the other guy thinks, what the gal on the other coast is doing to solve the problems that those in the same sector likely have in common.

So, here is my official call for sdnTVnews appointments at ISC West. If you are an end user and would like to share your perspective with me, shoot me an email:

If you're a manufacturer and have some clients in town for the show, do the same. In a perfect world, I'd like to meet with everyone, but I'm prioritizing time for companies who have clients at the show.

Great. I look forward to talking with you!

Fusion centers going forward

Monday, November 9, 2009

You know I can’t go more than a few blog entries without coming back to one of my favorite subjects: fusion centers. I was excited to find the transcript of a speech given by Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis Bart Johnson in my inbox on this Monday morning. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Johnson from the intelligence community and I can imagine being tasked with aligning all the various stakeholders involved in fusion centers is a fairly enormous task, especially since it involves, well, just about everyone.

The speech, which was given at the National Homeland Defense Foundation Symposium VII in Colorado Springs, Colo. on Nov. 9, covered a wide range of issues including how fusion centers are reaching out to local and state law enforcement. One of the interesting points I picked out of his speech was the intention to bring together stakeholders from other sectors outside the intelligence community. Who, you ask? Well, people like you.

While continuing our support for state and local law enforcement operations within fusion centers, I&A also supports the integration of the fire and emergency services, public health and healthcare communities, critical infrastructure and key resource protection efforts, and cyber security into the fusion centers.

While the intention of fusion centers is to bring together stakeholders from private and public sectors, they seem to have run into some issues communicating with one another. All the fusion centers are locally run (by state and local agencies), yet they are all suppose to coordinate with one another. In his speech, Johnson acknowledged this “growing up separate” issue:

By the end of fiscal 2010, we will deploy DHS personnel to all 72 recognized fusion centers and all 72 centers will have access to our Homeland Security Data Network that carries classified information up to the Secret level.

Currently, I&A has 44 field representatives deployed to fusion centers across the country, he said.

In order to bring these fusion centers together, I&A has been tasked with managing the Joint Fusion Center Program Management Office. Because, in government, you obviously need someone to coordinate the coordinators. Holy smokes bureaucracy hurts my brain sometimes.

Anyway, Johnson said the department is currently working on one of most important functions of fusion centers, which is to make sure information gets to the proper people. After all, what good is information if those who need it don’t have it? He said that the I&A is in the final stage of conducting a study on how to better share information with state and local law enforcement partners. Have you voiced your thoughts yet?