Just how easy is it to get a gun inside a government building? Pretty easy, it seems.
On Thursday afternoon, in a Phoenix high-rise building that serves as home to the National Labor Relations Board, a disgruntled man with a gun was able to take nine people hostage. The man reportedly grabbed one woman as a hostage as she was heading to the 19th floor bathroom, and then dragged her into a courtroom-type space where he held her along with eight others.
With luck and after about eight hours of negotiations, the stand-off came to an end in the early morning hours, with all hostages released physically unharmed, and the gunman in FBI custody.
It wasn't the only news about courtroom and government building security that made headlines yesterday. In Atlanta, Ga., a panel reviewing security for the Fulton County Courthouse announced that security measures still were not up to par. This is the same courthouse where Brian Nichols, who was on trial for raping and holding his girlfriend hostage, went ballistic, grabbed a deputy's gun, shot a judge and others before escaping into the town's suburbs. That incident was almost a year ago, and despite an exhaustive review of the facility's security, the panel says that security is still understaffed, and technological needs like surveillance cameras are still not fully in place to provide the much-needed security intelligence.
Cost has always been the objection for many municipal, state and run-of-the-mill federal offices like the National Labor Review Board. After all, we're not talking the Pentagon or the White House here in terms of funding or in terms of international threats.
That lack of urgency will affect how you do business. As integrators and dealers offering system designs and installations for these facilities, and as security directors going before executive boards to seek funding for these systems, you're going to go up against the question of what the value of better security is. Re-read these two stories and have the bean counters read these stories as well if there is still any question as to the value of better security. It's all about the safety of people, once again.
The Week's News in Security
Linear Corporation, which has a number of different brands that residential and commercial dealers know (like Linear Access Control, Panamax, ChannelPlus, Niles Audio, Open House), brought Furman Sound under its wing this week, when Panamax acquired the power engineering and audio/video signal processing company.
And some news for our security directors:
Execs at Securitas' UK cash handling services division must be in a bit of a shell shock still after a gang of armed robbers managed to make off with the equivalent of about $87 million in English currency after a well-planned raid that operated with "military execution". The good news? Up to three people are believed to already be in custody following the raid, although the money hasn't made reappearance yet.
A new Georgia bill would allow guns into company parking lots, as long as the guns are secured in employees' cars. The bill would override a company's ability to "Just say no" to guns in parking lots.
Rocket-propelled grenade launchers in the hands of just a couple radicals might be how terrorists would try to attack our nation's nuclear power plants, a new reports states. The report, which doesn't disclose any of its included sensitive information, indicates that it would likely be a smaller force than that which participated in 9/11.
For its 2008 Summer Olympic venues, China will be trying out facial recognition technology to recognize not only potential terror threats, but also to block known soccer hooligans. On the lighter side, we can only guess that People magazine and E! televison might be looking at a similar facial-recognition technology to automatically photograph Tom Cruise and Britney Spears -- just call it: Remote Automated Paparazzi (R.A.P.).