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Training officers important component of healthcare security


GLENDALE HEIGHTS, Ill.—The varying levels of risk at different healthcare facilities, combined with a unifying effort to be an open environment, makes protecting hospitals challenging.

Keys to transitioning from law enforcement to private security


SACRAMENTO, Calif.—For 20 years, Steve Reed was a police officer with the Sacramento Police Department. And like many individuals with long careers in law enforcement, Reed decided to move to the world of private security and is currently the manger of security and guest services at the Arden Fair Mall.

No longer the standard in municipal budgets: "Squeeze everything else but police and fire"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

For every municipal story I've written in the last year, I've heard the same thing, over and over: Budgets are being slashed. And it's only getting worse. But those same stories involve municipal security folks spending money on security, right? It's true, there are plenty of case studies out there about the deployment of wireless video surveillance systems or an improvement to communication networks, but many of those projects are funded through federal grants. The government has spent money on security since 9/11, but will that money start to dry up soon?

Yesterday, I spoke with the panelists for an upcoming presentation at TechSec Solutions called "Look Ma, No Wires." This presentation will focus on wireless technology and address issues including when to implement a wireless solution and what type of solution works best for certain deployments. But something that caught my ear as I was listening to Ralph Bell from Motorola was in regards to the work they do with municipalities. Basically, he reiterated that municipalities often have the money needed for an initial deployment, but don't have the financial resources or in-house expertise to maintain the infrastructure or pay for upgrades to the system. It's my understanding municipalities often receive federal grants, which are often designated for initial deployments, but rarely can be used for maintenance or repairs and the municipality must pay for that from its own funds.

And budget woes aren't going away any time soon. I just read an interesting Q&A article with the mayor of Newark, N.J., Cory Booker, about his approach to budgeting. Here's the link from the Huffington Post. Like many elected officials, he understood the importance of police, fire and other public safety agencies. As a matter of fact, here's his original approach to budget cutting:

"Squeeze everything else but police and fire."

But, according to the article, last year, the city laid off 164 officers, about 13 percent of the force. The reporter asked how it came to that. Here's his answer:

Look, budgets across the country -- 60 percent of American cities have had reductions in their forces of public safety. And, so, this is not something that's unique to Newark...So, we have dramatic losses in revenue. And public safety, frankly -- police and fire -- make up the significant majority of our budget. We were squeezing and starving every other area of our city. Furloughing employees, cutting staff. But it came to a point where we couldn't cut enough to make up for the tremendous budgetary shortfall.

He goes on to address having to put older police officers back out on the streets in order to maintain the same police presence before the cuts, but also notes that such budgetary restrictions have impacted the reduction in crime in the city. Of course, he also spins it as actually putting more experienced officers back out on city streets - he's a politician after all.

What do you think? How worried are you about the correlation between budgetary cuts and public safety? Are we over the worst of it or is the worst yet to come?

What security professionals should learn from Wikileaks


YARMOUTH, Maine—The release of sensitive information by Web site WikiLeaks has caused national and international outcry, but should serve as a reminder to government and private corporations alike about the importance of securing electronic information.

Holiday theft estimated to be $2.77B for retailers


THOROFARE, N.J.—While the upcoming holiday season means a boom in sales for retailers across the country, it also means an increase in retail theft, both internal and external. Professor Joshua Bamfield, executive director of the Centre for Retail Research, who authored the 2010 Global Retail Theft Barometer, estimated that U.S. retailers will lose $2.77 billion to theft this holiday season (mid-November through end of December).

Budget woes mean fewer officers and less training


WASHINGTON—Police departments around the country are facing major budget cuts, which often means fewer officers on the street. And, a new report has found that officers who do make it on to the street, may not be as well trained as in previous years.

ASIS launches online tools to improve your company’s resiliency


ALEXANDRIA, Va.—How prepared is your company to deal with a major event? Or, more importantly, how fast can you recover following a disaster? These are some of the most important questions for all security professionals to answer, according to ASIS executives.

NYPD increasingly relies on video in subways

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I am a huge fan of public transportation, but subways freak me out. It's a combination of too many people in a small place mixed with traveling several stories underground. Plus, this job hasn't helped at all. It's made me all too aware of security threats (to the point that I check my shower stall when I come home, just to make sure someone didn't break in and is hiding in there. Is that paranoia? It might be, but you trying being a single female living alone on the first floor).

Anyway, I'm always on guard in subways, and apparently for good reason. This New York Daily News article found that the NYPD requested surveillance footage from NYC Transit more than 2,000 times last year.

There are now more than 3,100 cameras installed throughout the subways, with 900 of them just installed this June. Plus, there are more cameras on the way. The MTA said 1,000 more will be installed by the end of next year.

While the article found that crime in the subway is at a historically low level, with less than six felonies a day in the 468-station system, it still makes me nervous. Video surveillance, as those in the industry know, can be great forensic tools (if they're properly installed and working correctly, which all too often they are not). But, because those cameras are often not monitored, they contribute little to preventing crime. And frankly, that's what I'm looking for. And with that in mind, I'd say it's probably a good thing for me to stay here in Maine where we're forced to just drive everywhere.

What do we want from civic CCTV, and what does that mean we have to do?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I love IP Video Market Info. Here's their boil-down of the state of the debate over civic video surveillance:

Key Findings Summary

  • The expectation that CCTV systems should be deployed to reduce crime rather than solve crime has created huge problems.
  • While the studies show serious doubt on CCTV's ability to reduce crime generally, a strong consensus exists in CCTV's ability to reduce premeditative/property crime
  • CCTV is consistently treated as a singular, stable technology, obscuring radical technological changes that have occurred in the last 10 years
  • Differences in per camera costs are largely ignored, preventing policy makers from finding ways to reduce costs
  • Routine comparison of police vs cameras is counterproductive

Practical Recommendations Summary

  • Stop claiming that CCTV can generally reduce crime
  • Optimize future public CCTV projects around crime solving rather than crime reduction
  • Optimize future public CCTV projects around material and premeditative crimes
  • Target technologies that support crime solving and material/premeditative crimes
  • Focus on minimizing cost per camera

There's a lot more dialogue about whether to deploy surveillance cameras, and where, than about how to use them to achieve specific goals.

People either want cameras because they want reduced crime (as we see above, unrealistic except in the systemic, longterm sense that more criminals will be caught and therefore taken off the streets) or they don't want them because they feel watched (most civic cameras are unmonitored, their recorded video is used exclusively as post-crime forensic tools).

Looking at new ways to monitor based on alarms or review of recorded video samples will be important going forward. In the same way business are using surveillance video to improve customer experience (read: revenue), law enforcement authorities should use recorded video to better understand patterns of crime and the activities that precede them and can be identified as signals that can be the basis of preventive actions.

- Abigail