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Front Line Security at Risk

Matters of security never seem to be old news. What a wild ride at the U.S. Capitol in early January. So much so that security has been called into question.

Matters of security never seem to be old news. What a wild ride at the U.S. Capitol in early January. So much so that security has been called into question.

The front line of security defense at the Capitol would have been official notice that there were people attending a questionable and perhaps violent rally at the other end of the Capitol mall. Check.

Capitol Police at the opposite end of the mall, in position, protecting the building and Congress from possible threats. Check.

The stage is set and security in place. Fence barricades, though not secured to the ground, in place and manned by Capitol Police; however, with only scores of police in place, they were no match for the thousands of frenzied protestors, walking to the Capitol.

Perhaps, this would have been enough security to dissuade protestors from carrying out vicious attacks and storming the building. Not this time. The perimeter fence was quickly obliterated and some of the unruly throng of protestors made their way inside.

While a devastating blow to the work of Congress, and quite an eye opener for the remainder of the country. There were, however, several security solutions that worked just as they were intended. Here is a look at what worked, and how well.

Video surveillance. Angry mobs stormed the building, and those who were “brave” enough by showing off or smiling for the cameras on the House and Senate floors have had their mugshots shared over social media, as well as the evening news. “That is going to be a treasure trove of information,” said Doug Kouns, a retired FBI special agent.

Facial recognition software. Does it work? You better believe that investigators were able to match names and faces with little to no trouble at all. After all, the FBI has a database of 600 million images for comparison.

Gumshoe security. Old school security, but the Metropolitan Police Department is posting pictures of rioters, and offering $1,000 reward for names. Some people were easier to identify than others. There is the guy with his feet on the desk, the Viking helmet guy and the guy carrying the podium, all identified and arrested. Then, of course, there was the guy wearing his company security badge. He has since been red.

Human guarding. Capitol Police not only confronted the mobs, but were to clear a route and get member of Congress to a secure location.

Easily one of the darkest moments in American history, it is a welcome conclusion to a stressful afternoon. Capitol Police on the frontline of providing security to members of Congress.

This article originally appeared in the January / February 2021 issue of Security Today.

About the Author

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

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