Toy Gun Alert

Boeing Co. was able to run an actual emergency exercise at its Ridley Township, Delaware County, Penn., plant April 21. No one knew this was going to happen because no one expected testing emergency procedures.

An employee brought a fake gun to work. The fake weapon was to be used in a static display, but he didn’t let anyone else know he was bringing the fake gun, or for that matter that what he had in his hands wasn’t real.

In the end, Boeing spokesman Joe LaMarca said it was an event that got everyone’s attention, but he concluded, “It’s really a non-incident.” And, if it would have been the real deal, it could have been a huge incident.

Emergency procedures were put in place shortly after 9 a.m. when a employees reported to security that they saw a man pass through an employee entrance “carrying what appeared to be an assault weapon.” As you can well imagine, the plant was shut down.

Boeing acted swiftly in evacuating the locked down plant, and contacting local police. Law enforcement response was outstanding, according to LaMarca. Police were able to identify and locate the employee, who was carrying a mockup of a weapon that was intended for display in a shell of a Boeing helicopter, which also has fake engines. The display is used at tradeshows.

The employee forgot to inform security what he was doing, and that he would be bringing a fake weapon to the office. The upside, if there is one, is that company emergency preparedness officials were ready, just in case. You have to understand that the Boeing site isn’t an office building, but rather a sprawling plant site.

As it turns out, it was a worthwhile exercise for a possible event employees can’t take for granted any longer. Boeing security and emergency preparedness officials, as well as local law enforcement, deserve a gold star.

About the Author

Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.

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