The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Jan. 13-19, 2007

Sometimes when politicians get moving, dangerous things can happen. Case in point: The House recently passed a bill that would require screening of all cargo that would go aboard passenger planes. The situation of concern is that most airlines subsidize their flight costs by taking non-passenger cargo aboard the same planes that carry you, me and the rest of the public. The obvious worry is that terrorists might try to use the cargo shipping avenues to get bombs aboard planes, since very little of this cargo is actually screened for explosives.

The Democratically controlled House, in a move to show they are strong on security to the American people, jumped at the chance to close this loophole. However, the problem is that there needs to be a lot more thought that goes into the process. I caught up with William McGuire this morning to talk about that subject. McGuire is president of Global Security Associates, a full-service security operations, training and consulting firm in New York that works with airlines in addition to supplying E.P. details and even corporate emergency planning services.

The problem, says McGuire, is that you can’t simply lump all cargo together and screen it the same way. Some of this cargo is regularly scheduled deliveries coming from known companies, he explains. But then there are the cases of the man who simply drops off a package at a freight shipping company and asks for it to be shipped by air to a foreign city. The two instances, says McGuire are enormously different in nature. In one case, you have known cargo from a known shipper. In the other case, you have unknown cargo delivered by an unknown shipper, even though it is routed through a known shipping company. McGuire’s point is that before Congress creates a definitive plan for cargo screening, it needs to look at the subtleties of who’s doing the shipping, what’s being shipped, and whether there are protocols to speed up the process before making blanket legislative plans.

McGuire’s comments seem to echo the points of Kip Hawley, TSA chief, who is expressing concern over the House plan. Hawley is concerned that expense and effort of creating 100-percent-screening would really only increase security incrementally. Look for more of McGuire’s comments on this subject in our Tuesday newsletter for security executives: SecurityFrontLine.

Where do alarm permit fees go?
Alarm businesses need to stay involved in local politics

I wrote a brief column earlier this week that got a lot of industry support, and I want to thank our readers for sending me emails on the subject. The issue at hand was how money from a potential alarm permit program in Minneapolis could be used to fund liquor license inspectors. While that budget proposal is not yet approved, it illustrates the need for alarm and monitoring firms to be involved in the process and speak up for their customers when it comes to alarm ordinances. It’s a perfect example of how our industry needs to be active in their local communities, not only to help the police reduce false alarms, but also to be involved in the public comment process on potential ordinances and budgeting.

Corporate security collaboration
Bank of America and Wells Fargo link up in project to reduce ATM thefts

ATM thefts are not new. They’ve been a source of constant concern for not only bank security personnel, but also for convenience store owners, who have seen outlandish attempts involving forklifts and trucks crashing through store doors in attempts to make off with these cash cows. What’s new is the level of corporate interaction to help prosecute the perpetrators. On that note, I want to make mention of news from Bank of America and Wells Fargo, who have teamed up to offer a combined reward of $80,000 for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of persons involved with ATM thefts in the area around Arizona’s Maricopa County. These types of partnerships are healthy for our profession, whether it’s a jointly funded reward or a simple call list of security departments at nearby businesses to discuss community crime problems.

In other news
Integration partnership, big news in the detection systems business, and other top news

Stanley has completed its acquisition of HSM Electronic Protection, fully establishing itself in the monitoring business. The move augments Stanley’s security hardware and electronic systems manufacturing business (and the company’s integration services), and finally makes Stanley a full-service provider when it comes to commercial security … Government contractor/program manager Condortech has linked arms with the membership of the PSA Security Network to help create integrator partnerships for bidding on government security contracts. … ADT is reporting that more and more VoIP providers are proving themselves compatible with alarm monitoring services. … UDT is looking for input from security and facility managers at major buildings on how well their facilities might be prepared for a biological-agent terror attack. … Also in the detection business, GE and Smiths have created a joint venture – called Smiths GE Detection – that brings together both companies' expertise in automated threat detection for explosives and other terror agents.

Finally, we close with a look at the most popular news and columns of the week on