Examine Your Perimeter
Now that you have determined if you have a high-, medium- or low-risk facility, you need to start your plan from the outside. First off, who are you allowing in your building? If your organization is the lone user of the building, what type of background investigations are you conducting on new employees or contractors? Do you know if the new individual coming through the door is a legal resident of the United States? Does this new employee have a history of violence, drug use or theft? If he or she is handling money, have you conducted a credit check? Are you allowing undocumented members of your cleaning crew to have free access to every office in your facility at night? The costs for a background investigation for each new employee are dwarfed beside the losses you might suffer if you allowed a violent individual into your work areas. In the case of contract firms that supply personnel to your facility, does your contract ever require them to conduct background investigations of their staff, and do you ever audit this activity?
Do your new tenants or employees get some form of security and safety orientation? Do they know who to call in an emergency? Do they know who should have access to their work area? Do they know the emergency evacuation routes, and do they know where they should meet after they evacuate the building so a headcount can be conducted?
Are you in regular contact with the local law enforcement authorities to learn what criminal activity is happening in your immediate neighborhood? Do you have a method of passing on this information to your tenants or employees?
Now look at your facility as a stranger might from the outside. Are your property boundaries clearly defined? Would a stranger know if he or she were walking or driving from public to private property? Is this defined by signage or architectural design? Is your property given the appearance of being well maintained? Is graffiti quickly removed or covered? Are bushes trimmed low? Is the lawn maintained? If not, you will give the stranger the impression that you don't care about your facility's appearance and probably also do not care about security.
At night, is the area around your property dark and foreboding or well illuminated? Do your employees or tenants feel apprehension when they walk from your building to the parking lot or parking deck at night? Could they see danger at a distance or are there shadowy hiding areas where unsafe individuals could be lurking?
If you have a large parking lot or a parking deck, do you provide your employees, visitors or tenants emergency call boxes? Are these boxes well illuminated and marked? Are they easily seen from all areas of the parking facility? Are the call boxes regularly checked to make sure they are working? Is there someone always ready to answer an emergency call from the call box? If the call comes in, will the person answering know where the call is coming from if the person making the call cannot speak?
Now we have only made it to the outer walls of your facility, but we have already discussed four layers of physical security involving lighting, background investigations, employee orientation and property definition.
How many entrances are there to your building? Are these entrances monitored? When we say monitored we could mean a lobby receptionist, a CCTV camera or an employee that can observe the entrance from his or her desk. Could an office creeper or stalker enter your facility without ever being seen or recorded by anyone or any system? Don't forget about the back doors and the loading dock. Limit the number of access points to your building and use some form of natural or mechanical surveillance so that those approaching and entering the facility have the feeling they are being monitored.
When using mechanical security systems, such as CCTV, look for systems that will give you the best bang for your buck. Which would be more helpful, a CCTV system that records individuals walking down a hallway at three in the morning or a system that records and alerts your monitoring station that someone is walking down that hallway and advising them what action may need to be taken? Make sure you are using all the features available in your security systems.
One other access point is your air intake vents. I am not talking about a disgruntled ex-employee entering the facility through the vent, but introducing some toxic substances to your building to disrupt your operations. Are your air vents on the roof or at ground level? I have found many of these vents, in buildings built in the 1960's, in the loading dock area where a badly positioned vehicle could introduce exhaust into the HVAC system. Are your ground-level air intakes monitored? How quickly can you turn off your HVAC system in the event a foreign substance is introduced to your system?
The front lobbies of many buildings can be an amazing layer of security. Have you ever walked into the lobby of a commercial building to observe the lobby attendant with his head down, behind a counter, reading a book or watching TV? What was your first impression of the security of that facility? If you were an unsafe individual, would you feel comfortable trying to continue on into the building? What if you walked into the same building and the lobby attendant stood up, greeted you, made eye contact and asked if he could be of assistance? What would your initial feeling of the facility security be under this scenario?
Make sure all members of your lobby staff team follow the same procedures when it comes to access control. If your procedures call for an authorized photo ID to be examined before an employee, visitor or tenant is allowed into the facility, make sure all members of your lobby team are following this rule. All it takes is one lobby staff member who thinks he or she knows everyone who works in the building without checking the ID as required. An employee who has been terminated and had their corporate ID removed could gain access not as an employee but as a disgruntled ex-employee. When the know-it-all lobby staff member goes on vacation and is replaced by a staff member who does not claim to know everyone, then you will start getting phone calls from tenants or employees wondering why, if their ID hadn't been checked in the previous two years, was it checked today?
Depending on the level of risk at your facility, you may want to introduce an inspection layer in your lobby. You may want to install signage that indicates you plan to randomly inspect packages carried in by visitors. You may have visitors walk through a magnetometer. Again, this will be defined by the potential threats to your facility.
Here is where the use of physical or optic turnstiles can make your physical security plan more effective. If you have hundreds of employees or tenants, there is no way a lobby attendant is going to remember who is authorized access and who is not, especially if you have a 24-hour-a-day operation. Using a turnstile system, the employees or tenants will display their access card and be allowed access. In lobbies, the low turnstiles will require an attendant to be available to deal with visitors or persons who jump over the hardware. But at backdoors or little-used entrances, a full-size turnstile system could keep unsafe individuals from entering the facility. There are systems available that even weigh the individual gaining legal access to make sure he or she is not trying to squeeze someone else through at the same time. These turnstile systems even allow persons legally leaving the building to not accidentally let unsafe individuals into the building.