On August 30 through Sept. 2, the Republican National Convention descended upon New York City, bringing with it a host of government VIPS, celebrities, protesters, anarchists and scores of curious New York denizens. With this volatile a mixture of interest and this high-profile of an event, security was a top concern, especially since the entire convention and festivities were being closely watched by national news media.
The security efforts brought upon a convergence between a variety of groups, including the NYPD, the Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, private security firms and even the U.S. Postal Service - their police force was used at the Madison Square Garden post office and the media center.
Inside the alphabet soup of different security operations was Joe Sordi, president and CEO of Strategic Security Corporation, a N.Y.-based firm that provides comprehensive security solutions.
SecurityInfoWatch.com spoke with Sordi recently to get a sense of what it takes to be a private security firm working a major event associated with the Republican National Convention.
Getting the Contract
Sordi, an active sergeant with the NYPD Intelligence Division, started working in security over a decade ago, and two years ago founded Strategic Security Corporation to fill what he saw as a void in the industry - a company that brought together high-level physical security with emergency operations, executive protection, port security, installations, event security and more. "People were asking for risk assessment and they were just getting a physical security assessment," notes Sordi, explaining the raison d'etre of the company's founding.
He put his staff together and brought on top security experts as consultants, and managed to gain some high-profile clients in the process.
And then, earlier this fall, the RNC came to town. When it came time to bid on some event security projects, one of which was the "Warehouse Party" that occurred nightly and served as a lobbying forum as well as a place for officials and VIPs to rub elbow, cut deals and generally enjoy themselves. Sordi's company landed the contract for the Warehouse Party, largely, he says because in their proposal, the looked at the "what if" factor.
"They (decision makers) want to see a comprehensive emergency plan," explains Sordi. "We constantly try to promote analytical thinking; we ask the 'what if' questions that insurance companies don't know to ask."
Sordi says that their ability to educate a potential client about all facets of the security operations is what has typically landed them their contracts. They can go the potential client with a thorough system design that encompasses emergency preparedness, how the security plan meshes with their insurance carriers requirements and coverage, the ability to show a return on investment, vulnerability assessments, and even how planning the event and using the facility would affect the event permitting process. While they had landed other contracts for the Republican and Democratic conventions, the Warehouse Party was one of their largest -- with a $300,000 paycheck coming for keeping it safe.
Making It Happen
The Warehouse Party occurred each night for four nights at the former Tunnel night club, and required a revamp of the building that had been known for its narcotics-driven rave scene until it was shut down about a year ago. Sordi's team, having won the contract, finalized their security plans and went to task gutting the building. Approximately 50 CCTV cameras were installed in and around the premises so that staff could monitor what was going on at all times. Sixty of the company's officers were on duty each night at the party, with redundant communications systems to keep the information flow up-to-date.
Central to the design of the security plan was the emergency operations center -- a large room staffed with a half-dozen of his employees. A video monitoring console lined one wall, with a large plasma television so that the operations director could pull up any incident, and six other monitors with the screens divided to show the other cameras.