In this interview conducted by Chris Hills of SecurityInterviews.com, former Starbucks CSO Francis D'Addario tells his story from his days in law enforcement through to his career in corporate security. As a focus point for this interview, D'Addario said when commenting on his new book Not a Moment to Lose…Influencing Global Security One Community at a Time (about the book), "It is an anecdotal approach to remind us that natural and man-made risk is mitigatable if not preventable." Chris Hills' interviews
SecurityInterviews.com: When did you know security was your calling?
Francis D'Addario: It took a while. Like most people my professional journey was a series of opportunistic coincidences. As a student at Antioch College majoring in Urban Problems, and part time Vietnam War protester, I found my work study in the Baltimore City Police Department. I later observed to colleagues that I was one of the few to experience mace and pepper gas on both sides of a police line.
After collecting an Associate of Arts in Law Enforcement Administration I learned why Thomas Wolfe maintained “You Can’t Go Home Again”. I returned to Buffalo, New York, with my high school sweetheart and bride, accepting my first private sector security job with Sears and Roebuck. Located in proximity to two methadone clinics, our security efforts were partially credited for turning around an unprofitable store. I learned early on that risk mitigation enabled profit. Counter-intuitively our opportunity for internal embezzlement proved greater than the burglary, larceny and robbery threats posed by outsiders.
My wife’s superior intellect allowed her to ace a federal civil service test for a promising appointment with OSHA in Washington DC. I tagged along, joining the campus police department at George Washington University to pursue a Masters in Forensic Sciences. I wrote an article on the Survival of the Urban Retailer for ASIS and placed second in the annual student paper competition.
I survived my first crisis as a campus police supervisor when the Hanafi Muslims took over three federal buildings and nearly 200 hostages. George Washington University Medical Center was the triage point for the injured. Three of my best officers were ironically Hanafi Muslims. Their failure to report for duty during the ‘siege’ provoked significant interest in the intelligence community. My second published article, on emergency preparedness, evolved shortly thereafter.
I soon learned that you could not collect a Masters of Forensic Sciences without a baccalaureate. Louise was expecting our first child. In short order I was recruited by the Carlton, a boutique hotel at 16th and K, two blocks from the White House. That was during the Carter Administration. Hotel security wore chic English morning suits, cuff mikes and ear pieces. The metrics were food and beverage costs, room burglaries…a far cry from the Part I crimes of the grittier urban employers.
One afternoon a motorcycle messenger came into the hotel with a suspicious package for a guest. The addressee was a Turkish diplomat. The government agent responsible for the guest‘s protection decided the envelope was not ‘sufficiently suspicious’ to detour its delivery. I relied on my relatively inexperienced perception of the exceptional nature of the delivery, and discreetly moved it out of the lobby to a safer location. The DC bomb squad confirmed it was a letter bomb and detonated it on their range. That’s when I found my calling.