The security week that was: 12/05/08

Dec. 5, 2008
A weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession

Don't Go Changing (the DHS)

As he enjoys the final weeks of his time as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff had a recommendation to president-elect Barack Obama and incoming DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano: Don't go changing.

Speaking at Johns Hopkins University (read the full text of the speech), Chertoff said that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security works because it has successfully integrated the operations and training of so many response communities. He responded to speculation that FEMA might be removed from the Department of Homeland Security under Obama's presidency, and he warned listeners that removing FEMA from DHS would undermine much of the accomplishments and training made recently.

"What happens when you don't have someone to coordinate the incident across the entire spectrum of prevention, protection and response?," asked Chertoff. "Well, I would argue that that's what we saw in Mumbai, India."

Chertoff's point is that removing FEMA from the DHS would effectively minimize the "response" part of that equation. In response to the proposal that FEMA become a separate entity, he said:

"Many of those who argue that FEMA ought to be pulled out of the department do so because their vision is that, where FEMA is about natural disasters and hurricanes and not terrorism and that's what the rest of DHS is about. But need I remind you that one of the critical elements, if there were a serious terrorist attack, would be the need to have an effective response and a response not to a weather event but a response perhaps to a dirty bomb or multiple improvised explosive devices or a biological weapon, and in order to have that capability, FEMA needs to continue to be a consumer of intelligence and expertise that the entire department brings to the issue of combating terrorism."

Here at, we give our utmost respect and heartfelt wishes to the people of India who had to endure the terror attacks in Mumbai last week as many in the U.S. were enjoying Thanksgiving festivities. While much has been said of the country's failure to protect its people, it's clear that these types of attacks, focused on soft targets and businesses, are among the hardest to prevent – a lesson our nation learned all too well during 9/11. Finally, if you're looking for an excellent overview of how/when these attacks occurred, I would recommend the UK's Guardian newspaper interactive map and timeline.

A very dark Black Friday
Retail buzz day becomes a buzz kill

Retailers should have seen it coming. After accidents and pushing and fighting crowds from recent "Black Friday" super sales, was it that hard to predict that a death was bound to happen? A temporary worker at a Wal-Mart store in New York was killed by an unruly crowd. Now, Wal-Mart faces multiple lawsuits for failing to protect its customers and staff.

At a Toys 'R' Us store in California, it wasn't the door-buster opening that left two dead, but violence between two armed men.

It's a security directors worst nightmare. What keeps a retail security director awake on Thanksgiving night is not indigestion from a second helping of stuffing and turkey; it's the fear that the sale at his/her store could turn deadly.

In other news:
Pelco's 2009 plans, Bruker Detection unveiled, ONVIF grows, Jewels go missing

Pelco is preparing to unveil a full product suite focused on high definition/megapixel surveillance in 2009. To help focus on that launch, the company has withdrawn its presence at the IFSEC tradeshow, which is rumored to have suffered from other major exhibitor pull-outs. ... Bruker Corporation's Bruker Daltronics division has been renamed Bruker Detection as it launches a product designed for airport drug and explosives detection. The company had already offered a number of chemical, biological and nuclear detection systems.

Security personnel at one of Paris' jewelers must be shaking their heads and updating their resumes after robbers in drag hauled off over a million dollars worth of jewels in a heist this week. ... ONVIF, the Open Network Video Interface Forum that was initiated by Sony, Bosch and Axis, is growing. The forum landed 18 new members, including Cieffe, Panasonic, Hikvision and IndigoVision. The group held its meeting this week in Washington, D.C., and unveiled v1.0 of its core specification.

Finally, we close with a look at the most read stories of the week from SIW: