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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Courthouse security

The security at the courthouse, or in this case, the clear lack thereof, keeps coming up on WILK.

And while I’ve listened to the theories, the anecdotal stories and the rampant speculation, I will now provide you with a first-person account of the lapse security at the courthouse from the perspective of a vendor.

Oh, and for the folks that think big, bigger and still bigger government has all of the answers, please know that this exercise is an eye-opening account of the difference between the private and public sectors. Glad I could help learn you damn fool, dependant folk.

Private sector security

I recently serviced a local distribution center, which encompasses all of one and a half million interior square feet. As for the exterior, well, the entire property is larger than most municipalities currently treading wave after wave of red ink in this backwards county.

Upon arrival, I waited in line behind many big rigs at what looks like a toll plaza. And when my turn at the window came, I was asked to provide either a verifiable purchase order number or a work order number, as well as proper identification. After supplying as much, my truck number and license plate number were both logged.

At that point the security officer inquired as to exactly what I was going to be doing. And when I told him that my duties were entirely of the exterior perimeter nature, he told me not to attempt to enter the massive structure through any of the many man-doors, not to exceed the posted speed limits and to report to and pass through this same security portal before the focus of my visit transitioned from the exterior to the interior perimeter version of my visit.

And when I completed my tasks on the exterior, I returned to said poll plaza and was instructed where to go to gain access to the interior of the facility. And after a half-mile ride, I arrived at the exact other end of the facility, this time, at the main entrance.

After I parked my truck, a security officer appeared and told me without explanation to move the truck away from the structure, to only what could be called the rear section of the gigantic parking lot. And when I ventured inside with two service containers, one open and one closed, I encountered what I saw as the obligatory metal detector/wand station. After again providing proper identification and logging in, I was asked if I had any metal objects on my person. In response, I smiled and gave a hearty, oh yeah.

So the security guy started putting smallish plastic baskets on the countertop and told me to place any and all metal items in said baskets. And when I reminded him that I was literally loaded with metal items, he pointed to the baskets. So, out came the metal items from the service containers. And then he asked about the contents of my pockets, as well as the tools attached to my belt. Out they came, off they came and into the baskets they went.

And after I passed through the metal detector with nary a bell or whistle going off, I had to wait for the guy to finish his visual inspection of the tools of my trade. When he was satisfied with that, I was allowed to retool and told to wait for the facilities management contact to come out and meet me. A wait that reached just about a half hour.

Meanwhile, both on the exterior and now the interior of the building, it was painfully obvious judging by the copious amounts of security cameras that if I had sneezed, somebody would have known about it.

After completing the interior leg of the service, I made my way back to that security checkpoint to disembark, and I had to repeat the same steps to make my escape. But this time, the security folks were making sure that I had only what I carried in contained within those work containers of mine as I was trying to exit the building.

With all of that said, these people are used to seeing our people. We are contracted to be there on a monthly basis, sometimes more often, and those security people are used to seeing our logo.

Public sector security

This is what I encountered the last time I had to provide services at the Luzerne County courthouse. Or should I say, every time I ever visited the courthouse as a contracted vendor.
I pulled into the rear ground lot and parked amongst the Sheriff’s Department vehicles. The security guard at the exterior guard shack stuck his head out of the door and made some predictable crack about killing six-foot high bugs (his coworkers) that I have heard approximately 300,000 times before.

Ha, ha, ha.

After being buzzed through the supposedly secure rear entrance, the two posted security guards at the metal detector/wand station recognized the logos on my uniform, my ball cap and what have you and waived me around the entire shebang. Not through it, around it.

No proper identification, no purchase order number, no work order number, nothing. No escort, no explanation, no expectations, no direction, no protocols, no nothing. Nope, I was free to roam wherever I wanted to, I know my way around and under that building very well and roam I did. And when the roaming was done, I again bypassed the security station with a wave and a goodbye while on my way out of the building.

And there you have it, the stark difference between a real, private sector security system and the pretend security paid for with your tax dollars. The private sector protects it’s assets and employees, while the public sector goes through the motions.

Now, it’s needs to be noted that I am not some crazy looking to stab anyone, shoot anyone or worse at our courthouse. Then again, I was able to gain unfettered access to the building with plenty of tools contained within my service vessels, including two knives of greatly varied lengths, a multi-tooled Leatherman, a 24-inch long screwdriver, a Maglite powered by 8 D batteries (heavyweight baton?), a Streamlite Stinger Ultra (lightweight baton?) as well as untold amounts of pesticides and rodenticides.

And in this age of terrorism, domestic and otherwise, short of radiological, there is no more effective dirty bomb than a dirty bomb heavily laden with pesticides.

Security at the courthouse?

Yeah! Right!



1 comment:

D.B. Echo said...

Well, at least I know I won't have any hassles when I begin jury duty on December 1.