The Security Week That Was: A Recap - Dec. 31-Jan. 6, 2006

It took some time but the Department of Homeland Security is getting back to its security roots. After being plagued by politics in doling out funds to metro areas in a format that seemed to encourage what many would call pork-barrel funding, the DHS has moved to a standard risk-based and assessment-based format for funding.

The news that the DHS had earmarked $765 million for specific metro areas at high-risk of terrorism incidents – and which anticipated limiting funding to lower-risk cities including Louisville, Buffalo and Tampa – brought out a number of cries from cities who felt that they were overlooked, proving that you can’t please everyone. And while some major metros (including Las Vegas) that seem to be imminent fixtures of the American psyche, much like New York’s Twin Towers were, are excluded, the new format is a step in the right direction. Just as security systems dealers and facility security directors focus their resources everyday to secure high-risk area, the DHS model is now doing the same. While pundits can nit-pick over whether Las Vegas is a higher-risk target than say, Atlanta (which is on the list to get part of the $765 million in funding), the overall move is a positive one and one that our industry can applaud.

The full list of the DHS urban area candidates for funding is published online; click here to see that PDF document.

Liability for Guard Services

While our industry often gets focused on the technology of security -- access control cards, surveillance cameras, IR motion sensors -- most facilities still rely heavily on the guard services industry. A ruling involving a case where a plaintiff was assaulted by a guard hired to protect a Ford Motor Company facility was important news this week. In the case, the judge found Ford Motor Company not liable for the actions of the hired guard, basing the decision on the fact that because the guard was working in his scope of work. The ruling indicated that Ford was not negligent for retaining the subcontracted employee, and was therefore not liable in a negligent retention suit.

Low Voltage not Burglar and Fire

Despite valiant efforts from the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) to create a true, national level organization that brings together specific interests of all burglar and fire alarm companies, the whims of state organizations still decide the future of cohesion in our industry. That was nowhere more duly noted than when, on Thursday, Dec. 29, the Georgia Burglar and Fire Alarm Association disassociated itself from the NBFAA and became the Georgia Low Voltage Contractors Association (GLVCA). The move may indicate that in this time of varied installation opportunities, from home automation, to HVAC integration, to commercial audio, video and sound, the "burglar and fire" designation may not always be able to fully encompass the expanding duties of many dealer companies.

Nonetheless, the disassociation of the GBFAA/GLVCA from the NBFAA seems hardly a slight on the NBFAA, which has found its core roots in becoming an advocacy and training tool for our industry. The NBFAA has taken a notable lead in tracking legislation on Capitol Hill that will affect all security companies, and continues to have a mission of promoting that which is beneficial for our industry. What have they done for you lately? The NBFAA has helped create support for H.R. 4460, the so-called College Life Safety and Fire Protection Act, and has secured a seat on the International Code Council's Advisory Committee.

You've Got to Love This

Those of you on the sales side of electronic security systems should have your hearts warmed by a statement from Chattanooga, Tenn.'s police department regarding surveillance cameras. The Chattanooga police recently encouraged area businesses to reexamine CCTV systems, noting that businesses which have not used such equipment would be well-served to consider using such equipment, and also encouraged those with video surveillance systems to consider upgrading to the higher-quality digital systems now on the market today. Why? Simple reason: It makes their jobs as police easier and helps get crimes against businesses prosecuted.

The Hot Stories

We close with a look at the top stories on from the last seven days: