Security Around the Globe

What’s up with the TSA these days? Have you noticed that officers are acting a little nicer and even asking questions about you, your travel or maybe even your job? Don’t be fooled: It’s all an act, because it’s business as usual at the airports.

TSA is tweaking its routine a little bit, and instead of standing pat with gloom-and-doom facial expressions, employees might engage in a little chit-chat. You know the routine. As you stand in line and reach the point where your ID is checked, the officer may actually engage in conversation. He may ask about your day and share a morsel about his workday. If that doesn’t catch you off guard, I don’t know what will. Just be prepared for a little conversation, because it’s TSA’s new routine—an “ongoing risk-based, multilayered security strategy.”

Right now, the strategy is only a pilot program. But in Terminal A of Logan International Airport in Boston, an expanded behavior-detection exercise is underway. TSA has specially trained behavior-detection officers asking passengers a few extra questions as they proceed through ID check. It’s part of what TSA is calling “casual greeting conversations,” or what you and I might call a “chat down.”

It’s Football Season

Here in Texas, it’s easy to talk about football. Security goes hand-in-hand with football season, especially when it comes to planning for this year’s Super Bowl. Indianapolis will host the title game this season, and city councilors are planning to install 13 extra security cameras throughout the city in addition to the 68 units strategically placed throughout the downtown area.

Hey, it’s not a huge install, but the prestige of being part of football’s final gridiron event is always fun.

Funding for the cameras, which cost as much as $5,000 each, will come from a federal grant. The city will pay for maintenance and is seeking proposals for a four-year service contract. Once the Super Bowl has played out, the city is hoping to increase the number to 100, as more funding becomes available.

Not Calling All Cars

Burglars in Detroit, listen up: The Detroit police department will no longer respond to most alarms in the city. Whoever came up with this idea needs a refresher course in public safety and a willingness to serve.

The department has implemented a new verification policy, but with little notice or public discussion. This creates problems for homeowners and businesses that rely on monitored alarm services because it provides little opportunity to prepare for the change.

I recently saw a television commercial that stated the automotive industry in Detroit is reinventing itself. Apparently the police department is also reinventing itself—at the expense of the taxpayer and business owner. Most public safety officials are saying that this policy change puts citizens in danger and encourages them to take the risk of confronting crimes in progress when their alarms go off.

The Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan knows the city of Detroit is facing challenges, and the association has worked diligently to maintain a cooperative relationship with the police department to offer alternative approaches to an alarm. The association has shown what other cities are doing to reduce false police dispatches and encourage proper use of alarm systems.

Before the city gets too far down the road on this divisive plan, it would be good if Mayor Dave Bing would put a hold on this policy and force the police department to work with alarm industry experts and citizens to devise a plan that would protect citizens and encourage economic development.

On Next Year’s Menu

It’s the time of year that we here at Security Products magazine prepare for next year’s editorial schedule. For planning purposes, it’s already January for us, but we do have one small addition looming just ahead before we close up 2011.

On Nov. 14-16, our Network-Centric Security magazine will join with GovSec West for our first trade show outside of Washington, D.C. You are probably well aware of GovSec, which is held in early spring each year in the nation’s capital. It’s been going on for years and had been the property of our events division. Well, now we’re the owners, and we’ve added the companion tradeshow this year in Phoenix.

The event is about government security, both physical and logical. We quickly realized that there is more to government than what’s playing in the district. Our nation’s public servants are all around us, and doing a great job. You can register for GovSec West (www. govsecwest.com) and join us in Phoenix for three days of unparalleled education and training. We also have two incredible keynote speakers: Nicholas Stein, the series producer of “Border Wars,” a National Geographic Channel real-life drama; and Alan T. Mather, chief of the protective services division at NASA Houston. He will address making space for critical infrastructure security.

We’re pleased to have these two great speakers and will be even more excited if you join us at this event, which will host a dynamic panel discussion on the IP camera and IP network. We held a similar discussion at ASIS, and it turned out to be a roaring success. I hope you’ll join us Nov. 14-16 at Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort.

This article originally appeared in the October 2011 issue of Security Today.

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