London Blasts Pique Interest in Security

Anxious about the lack of security at his work site, an employee at an Oklahoma City energy firm called the Edmond Security Inc. alarm monitoring company Wednesday. The building he works in is wide open during the day, he complained. Every door is unlocked and unmanned.

Recent bombings in London most likely piqued the caller's awareness, said Paul Conrady, president of the security company. He and others in the industry report an increase in calls about implementing or beefing up security measures.

Conrady urges employers to pick a security starting point -- such as requiring employees to wear photo identification badges -- and build from there.

"The worse thing you can do is throw money out there haphazardly, installing expensive security equipment like a gate and camera, just to say you're doing something about terrorism," Conrady said. "A terrorist probably isn't going to drive through the gate, but cut the fence to go do his dastardly deed."

John Currie of Security Analysis and Forensic Consulting International agrees.

"Long before a company spends a penny on equipment, they need to do a threat vulnerability assessment," Currie said. "Maybe they don't need a camera, but to close early, cut their hedges so employees can see the parking lot, put lights around the business or locks on the doors."

Currie has 40 years of experience in the security field, including serving as former deputy commander for security police at Tinker Air Force Base. He heads the Oklahoma City chapter for the American Society for Industrial Security, which has 68,000 members worldwide and 110 locally.

Members focus on preventing terrorism and other incidents before they happen, Currie said.

"Our job is to observe problems," he said, "then report them to police for response and control."

Industries under the highest threat today include public transportation, utilities, water facilities, nuclear power facilities, dams, railway, trucking, bus lines and airports.

Tulsa International Airport recently reinforced operations, and the Port of Muskogee was awarded a six-figure grant from the Department of Homeland Security to "safeguard the transport of a high-priority product," Currie said.

Every business -- regardless of its sector or number of employees -- should be concerned with the safety of its workers and preservation of infrastructure, said Bill Price, chief executive officer of Safety and Security Services, which sells cameras and security guard services.

The Oklahoma City Museum of Art expanded its security operations when it moved from the state fairgrounds to 415 Couch Drive two years ago.

"Our state-of-the-art control room serves as a watchful eye over our 110,000-square-foot building," facility operations manager Jack Madden said. "We want to protect the museum's investment in art, as well as protect visitors."

Aside from security equipment, businesses should have contingency plans for emergencies, said Dorothy Gray, president of Data Control Specialists. Testing drills are critical to know what to do, Gray said, including how to exit the building.

Companies should consider using personality tests to choose which employees will head emergency teams -- from accounting for employees, talking to the media and assessing initial damage to arranging alternate work locations, she said.

"If your initial reaction to a car accident is to shut down emotionally and physically, you're not the right person to lead in an emergency," Gray said.

Rather than thick folders for contingency plans, Gray works with companies to develop emergency checklists she updates annually. Checklists include personnel rosters and where spouses work.

Above all else, employees themselves must participate in security measures, said Linda Adams, an Oklahoma City private investigator who also specializes in security issues.

"'The government ought to protect us,' sounds good, but it doesn't work that way," Adams said. "You need to be aware of what's going on around you.

"At a bare minimum, politely confront any visitor who isn't wearing a badge. And if containers of any sort are left unattended, assume they aren't good and report them, unless it's a sack lunch you can see into. If you can't, don't take the chance -- especially in today's environment."