Heightening Security

07/14/2017
“Unlike twenty-five or thirty years ago, our country has the growing threat of gang and terrorist agendas.  In addition, we have gun and drug issues which are out of control in every area of the country.  All of these people are armed, very dangerous, and provide little or no notice to their intentions.  Gang initiation, martyrdom, or drug craze cannot be easily defended unless physical security is in place. Any employee working in any state, county, or municipal building can be a target,” says Thomas R. Ermenville, president, Clear Security Systems. “These buildings and employees now require a higher level of protection than was acceptable in the past.” 
 
The payment counters and windows at many courthouses have old quarter-inch glass, that either slide open, or have large speaker openings and pass-through holes where weapons can easily be pointed, or threats made, he explains. “This lack of protection is now changing as those in charge of security are becoming aware of the increase of violent occurrences around the U.S.”
 
Bullet resistant acrylic can be shaped into various speaker configurations which provide a high level of sound transfer between employees and the public, without the use of expensive and unsightly electronic devices. Whenever bullet-resistant glazing is being considered, bullet-resistant fiberglass panels should also be included for the surrounding walls, as well as bullet-resistant doors. 
 
Officers, typically armed, are present to assist the public during the metal detection entry process, continues Ermenville. “These entrance areas can be protected with ballistic glazing systems where the officers stand behind protection and still provide the support needed for people to get themselves and their items through the detection system,” providing time to respond to a threat.
 
The latest advancements in detection include the ability to alarm for threat items such as guns and knives, while not alarming on innocuous items, like belts, watches, and keys, adds Luca Cacioli, director of operations, CEIA USA. “CEIA walk-through metal detectors have the lowest Nuisance Alarm Rate in the industry.”
 
CEIA products include the HI-PE Plus Walk-Through Metal Detector (WTMD) to detect guns, knives and cell phones; the SMD600 Plus WTMD that detects smallest, most challenging threats and is National Institute of Justice Standard compliant; the PD140E Hand-Held Metal Detector (HHMD) that operates indoors and outdoors. The PD240 HHMD has a wide search area with operator signaling features, and provides floor rebar rejection, and the EMIS-MAIL tabletop detects concealed metal threats in mail and parcels including detonators, batteries, trigger circuits and other metal components of parcel bombs without false alarms for non-threat items such as metal staples, paper clips and binding spirals, he explains.
 
“Metal detectors need to work in a variety of locations that present unique challenges,” furthers Cacioli. Electrical and mechanical interferences can disrupt screening operations as they are seen as noise by the metal detectors.  “CEIA metal detectors have built-in functions to recognize these noises and filter them without affecting screening operations.”
And, no longer is duress protection available only in static locations such as under a desk or on a wall, says Craig Badrick, CEO, Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI): The Guardian solution allows complete mobility as the small wireless duress fob is kept on the staff member and is always within reach. “Furthermore, the Guardian solution has advanced functions that can address staff who work alone and may have medical or safety concerns.  The man-down alarm will raise an alert even if the user is incapacitated and unable to manually raise an alarm.”
 
No Strings Attached
Court systems may have older, hard-wired duress solutions which can be expensive to upgrade or replace, Badrick notes. The TTI Guardian is completely wireless, thus there is no need to pull cables, take rooms out of service, or have a long, protracted installation. It also provides numerous methods of alarm delivery: to a manned security center, to LED signs, as a text message, to emails, and even to two-way pagers on the Guardian system.
“The Guardian solution is using the newest innovations in wireless technology, including the Zigbee IEEE protocol to create a self-organizing, self-healing wireless network that protects staff anywhere they roam, including outdoors, if required,” Badrick notes.
He relates a story about a recently completed installation for a county court complex in New Jersey.  “The customer was so impressed with the solution, that they expanded the scope of the project two times, even before the initial installation was complete.  Coverage was added to include outdoor spaces between buildings as well as the judges parking complex.”
 
Concealed Electric Deterrent
Also conveying a story of a safety solution, Brad Myers, owner and president of Myers Enterprises, Inc., maker of Stun-Cuff, refers to a detainee who kept acting up as he was being readied for trial. “So they demonstrated the Stun-Cuff, you just hit the button—you see and hear the electric current—the detainee didn’t give them any trouble. That’s the beauty of this; you rarely have to activate it. Just the demonstration and wearing it is the biggest deterrent. It’s enough to make bad boys into choir boys.”
 
He reiterates that “the product is 99.9 percent deterrent, but it is effective if they do try anything. Stun-Cuff allows detainees to sit in court with no visible restraint, which the judges and the defendant’s lawyer appreciate and is sometimes required so as not to look guilty,” he says. “But if the defendant chooses to lunge at the judge, or anyone, it’s just a one button hit and they will go down. It’s better than thumping them on the head or shooting them with a gun in front of the jury, better than any of the alternatives.”
 
Myers furthers, “For our eleven years of business, we have never had any litigation with the device or the use of it. This is chiefly due to the dataport which is important for accountability.” Each time it is fired it records the date, time and duration so if the detainee says it was fired twice, you can pull up the information and see it wasn’t fired at all, or that it was fired once coinciding with a security risk.
 
Performing Threat Assessments
Courthouse designers must consider all security risks: threats to the internal workings of the facility, such personal assault, biological or chemical attack, or cyber threats; as well as exterior risks like bombs, vehicles, or firearm attacks, says Will Fagan, marketing manager, CGL Architects, Inc.
 
The needs differ when applied to local courthouse or federal courthouse design. “Though the functions are similar, the differing user groups and the security assessments are very different between the two courthouse types. Federal courts are more likely to be targets for terrorist attacks and large-scale dangers. Local courts are more prone to spontaneous, less predictable violence, such as domestic assault or an attack on an individual. These differing threat analyses require vastly different security measures; however, courthouses must perform threat assessments as a whole and implement multi-level security solutions into the building’s design.”
 
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has worked with the United States Marshall’s Service and the General Services Administration to implement specific security measures in federal courthouse designs including building setbacks 50-100 feet, site barriers, blast resistant structures, ballistic glazing on the first floor, restricted parking underneath/adjacent, and CCTV perimeter control.  Local courthouses are not required to meet these specific security standards.
 
But there are common precautions taken, he notes: “All courts, federal and local, implement many similar security measures in the design process,” including metal detector and x-ray systems, separate restricted prisoner circulation, CCTV, duress alarms, single public entry, and separate judges’ entry.
 
Ballistic Protection
“Throughout the past several years, we have witnessed increased security measures at courthouse entrances, as well as within the courtrooms and payment centers, says Cassie Schlosser, southeastern representative, Insulgard Security Products.  “By reducing the number of entrances accessible to the public and increasing security at those entrances, several potential threats are mitigated.” Many use the combination of metal detectors and security officers, as well as secured vestibules hardened with ballistic materials. 
 
“Even with these improvements, security can be breached, which explains the increased demand for ballistic protection within the courtrooms,” she says. “We recommend armoring the judges' benches, witness and clerk boxes with ballistic-lined millwork utilizing bullet-resistant fiberglass panels.  Insulgard provides rigid sheets of woven fiberglass that can be retrofitted and attached to existing courtroom furniture, or we can provide the actual millwork for installation into a new courtroom.” 
 
Other areas within the courts where hardened security is useful include council or meeting rooms, judges' chambers and payment windows.  “When the public attends public meetings, tempers tend to flare depending on the topic at hand, so many courthouses armor the dais with ballistic fiberglass and may include a counterline (secondary) barrier to protect committee members.” 
 
With recent and burgeoning threats on all fronts, she says, “I believe increased court security will be mandated for all new, and possibly existing, courts to allow for equal protection throughout each county and state.” She anticipates more money will be allotted for security improvements among judicial buildings in the coming years, as has been the case lately. Better than the alternative…. CT
 
For more information:

Stun-Cuff by Myers Enterprises, Inc., 303.986.0803,  www.stun-cuff.com
CEIA USA, (888) 532-2342, www.ceia-usa.com, security@ceia-usa.com
Turn-key Technologies, Inc., 732.553.9100, www.turn-keytechnologies.com/guardian-security-lone-worker-alarm
Clear Security Systems, 800.468.0881, www.clearsecuritysystems.com, Tom@clearsecuritysytems.com
Insulgard Security Products, 800.624.6315, www.insulgard.com

CGL Architects, Inc., 416.925.8100, cgl@cglarchitects.com
Honeywell Security Products Americas, 800.323.4576, www.honeywell.com/security

 

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