The security week that was: 04/22/11 (protecting mass transit)

Protecting mass transit

Earlier this week, an attack against two male Delta flight attendants aboard an Atlanta commuter train made national headlines and put the spotlight on mass transit security.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a group of nearly two dozen teenagers boarded the southbound MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) train shortly after midnight on Sunday and beat and robbed the two flight attendants.

Passengers say the security presence on MARTA rail lines is weak.

"In the four years that I have ridden MARTA to and from my job, I have seen patrols on the train a total of four times," Atlanta resident Jeanne Maynard told the newspaper. "In the stations, yes, patrols are there. On the trains, where riders are captive to incidents of this type, four times in four years."

Since 9/11, there has obviously been a big focus within the transit security community on protecting buses and trains from terror attacks. But has this focus on preventing acts of terror come at the expense of protecting passengers from other types of crime?

With budgets across the country still being slashed, it’s doubtful that transit systems will be able to get the funding they need to hire more manpower. That means that transit security managers will have to leverage the resources they currently have in place.

TSA unionization in limbo

TSA screeners will have to wait till later this summer to figure out which union will bargain on their behalf as neither of the two groups vying to represent them garnered a majority of the votes cast in a recent election.

According to the Associated Press, the American Federation of Government Employees received 43 percent of votes cast, while the National Treasury Employees Union garnered 41 percent. The leaders of both groups expressed confidence in their ability to win the runoff.

"NTEU looks forward to the runoff election," NTEU President Colleen M. Kelley said in a statement. "We are confident our record of accomplishments and our program for their future will lead TSA officers to elect NTEU to help them improve their work lives and their workplaces."

"While AFGE is disappointed that we can’t begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement right away, we are confident that TSOs will once and for all vote for AFGE in a runoff election," said. AFGE National President John Gage.

The runoff election will be conducted over a four-week period beginning on May 23.

Slots filling up for Secured Cities 2011

We’re less than three weeks away from Secured Cities 2011, which will take place in Atlanta, Ga., on May 10-11. The conference will feature one-and-a-half days of targeted seminars about municipal surveillance and city security initiatives.

"We have a great program coming up and we’re happy to take our attendees behind the scenes into such projects as Chicago’s POD police camera system, the Chicago OEMC’s Operation Virtual Shield, Downtown Dallas’ project, Atlanta’s Operation Shield video integration project, and others," said Geoff Kohl, conference director for Secured Cities. "From legal issues regarding surveillance policies to best practices on active video monitoring, from new technology trends to city livability issues, we saw a need for a conference addressing municipal video surveillance and urban security issues -- and we have tremendous response from municipal organizations and law enforcement."

We are close to full registration capacity, so interested attendees need to sign up immediately before we close registration. To get into the housing block with the special $139/night rate at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, interested attendees need to reserve their rooms by end-of-day Monday using the "Hotel" link on After Monday, April 25, the special housing rate no longer applies.

In other news
Kindergartner takes gun to school, SIA’s Richard Chace resigns, more

Three students were injured at a Texas elementary school this week after a loaded gun fell out of the pocket of 6-year-old boy during lunch… The Security Industry Association announced that CEO Richard Chace has resigned from the organization. SIA’s executive committee is searching for his replacement… The Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) and Electronic Security Association (ESA) are watching several bills closely in Congress that could lead to the auction of radio spectrum used by the industry. … Morpho Detection is looking to bolster its position in the homeland security market as the company announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Syagen Technology.