Friday, February 8, 2008

Guns on Campus

Some higher education campuses are moving toward an armed security force, at least partly as a result of the Virginia Tech shootings. Nice solution to the problem, but it did not help at Virginia Tech which had a sworn and armed campus police force. As in most of these campus shooting rampages, the suspect took his own life before police arrived on the scene.

Buz thinks most schools would be better off, and save a lot of money, if they did not introduce firearms to their security force. The cost and the risks are enormous--unless you are in a high crime area, and have a fairly large number of officers working as backup.

On the other hand, there are schools which should have armed police officers and don't. They don't because of philosphical objections or want to play the game of using off-duty police officers--so any liability gets thrown on the local jurisdiction where the officer is employed.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Contract security guard companies

Considering using a contract security guard company for your business or organization? Buz, the security consultant, thinks, in light of the suspicion surrounding burglaries at the area's private schools, there are:

Some questions you should ask your security guard company (before you get one or of the one you have):

1.Do you do background checks on your guards, even if they come to you with a valid clearance card?
2.After you hire, do you ever check again? When? How often?
3.What are your standards for rejection, if any?
4.Do you do drug testing on your guards? Before hire? (Of course, they'll say. Buz recently ran into a security guard who is stationed at a school in the city. He said he's never had a drug test after working for them for more than 15 years.) Periodically? Randomly? For cause?
5.Do you pay your guards a living wage (Huh? What's that? Buz recently coached a woman who got a job as a security guard at a contract guard agency in Baltimore. They started her at $6.75 an hour. Think it might be a little easy to pay her a few bucks to look the other way? Would you really want anyone watching your assets or people who gets paid only $6.75/hour?)
6.What are your guards trained in? Anything? Or are they just bodies, a commodity, like say paper, or wood or electric.
7.Will you give me enough info on the guards proposed for my site to do my own background check if I wish? (social security number, date of birth, say)
8.If I don't want a particular guard for any reason (or no reason), can a different one be provided?
9.What are your guards' rules of engagement, say, if a fight breaks out?
10.When can they use their weapons (if they have any).

See how, if at all, they answer these questions.

Buz wonders if anybody out there has had any praise or criticisms for guards you may have run into.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

campus safety after Virginia Tech

Many of my colleagues in the campus security community are feverishly spending money to buy various emergency notification systems, because, apparently the lessons learned from Virginia Tech, it is believed, include some kind of emergency notification system. Buz thinks that they might be useful, not so much to help in an incident such as this, but just so that the school can say they have it to defend itself in a lawsuit.

Even if such a system were in place at VT, it would not have been used because the police thought the incident was confined and under control. In fact there were officers in the dorm where the original two murders happened, but did not say anything about it to students who were entering and leaving. Besides, what would one say? Gee, we've got 2 people killed here, so watch out?! What should we do, Mr. Security!? Go to class? Go Home? Go to the dorm?

A cursory look at some of the uses of the emergency notification systems since VT show that they are only one tool of many and often are not terribly helpful.

The key component of any system such as this is: who makes the decision to send out the message and what message do they send out.

Only the largest schools, with some exceptions, want to spend the money to have skilled full-time professional-level people present or available to make the decisions quickly. Usually these incident happen very quickly and there is a sense of unbelievability and denial which accompanies it.

Marc Steiner and his firing

The firing of Marc Steiner reminds me of the firing a number of years ago of Davey Johnson, one of the strongest managers the Orioles ever had. He was one of the few who would get in the face of these spoiled, childish, superstar athletes and make them perform in a team-like way. However, the owner of the team, Peter Angelos, and Johnson clashed and Davey was shown the door.

I don't think the Orioles have had a winning season since.

Same thing happened in New York when Giuliani's Police Commissioner, William Bratton, became more popular than him.

Buz believes that Steiner was a truly outstanding jounalist who knew a lot of the players in the city; I'm sure that the right-wing fire-breathers on the other talk shows hated him. But he really had some great shows: his five-part series on Vietnam was very moving and enlightening, and his interview with Felicia Pearson, Snoop, was thought-provoking.

I think WYPR will go the way of the Orioles. Their big mistake, in my most humble opinion was expanding to 50, 000 watts and buying stations on the Eastern Shore and Frederick. People, listen, ain't nobody in Ocean City or Frederick gonna care about what happens in Baltimore--which they all hate and fear. People interested in listening to public radion in YPR's format don't really care what's going on in Frederick or OC, either. Management just drove up their fixed costs to satisfy the mantra that bigger is better, and missed their niche of the sophisticated urban, urbane listener. There are plenty of suburban oriented stations to cater to those audiences.

Oh, I'm sure Marc could have been a difficult fellow to handle, but he was your main, maybe only big product.

By the way, the introduction of this show the Signal, on Fridays in Marc's time slot, was the beginning of the end. This poor dumb retired guy could never figure out what they were talking about: I guess one had to be one of the Creative Alliance types to really get into it. I dunno.

By the way of crime tip: don't go walking too far north of the Creative Alliance at the Patterson at night. It's bandit country.