Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Border Wall Fiasco

I continue to be amazed at how some otherwise-rational people refuse to accept the fact that a border wall is necessary to secure the southern border of the United States.  I will herein try to make this argument in a logical, reasonable way...
I have chosen to write about the border wall because it is a security issue plain and simple; it is not (or al least should not be) a political issue.
Virtually any space that is owned by someone has defined borders (the legal boundaries).  These boundaries – whether clearly delineated or not – serve to define who owns, controls, or is lawfully entitled to be on that property.  In even simpler terms: your area is yours – you get to be on it, and you get to decide who else may be on it.
When someone’s property has no clearly defined or delineated boundaries, there still is no legal question as to who owns it and who may lawfully be on it. But the problem arises that, without clearly delineated boundaries (borders), others who have no right to be on that property can potentially argue – and frequently successfully – that they did not know they were not supposed to be there.  In even simpler terms: if you want to control or limit who can be on your property, you have to clearly delineate the boundaries.
Someone’s property can be delineated in a number of ways: markings, signs, electronic sensors and the like. These measures can outline the boundaries, but do nothing to control or limit access to the property.
Someone’s property boundaries can be observed in a number of ways:  camera surveillance, personal observation, alarms, drones and the like.  These measures can view who has tried to gain entry or who has already gained access to the property, but do nothing to control or limit access.
Someone’s property boundaries can be delineated, controlled and protected (limiting access) primarily by barriers (walls) with specified ingress/egress points (doors and gates).  The concept is simple:  the walls provide the deterrence to and prevention of entry; and the doors allow control of authorized entry and departure.
So in summary and in even simpler terms:  a combination of things must be present to delineate and separate mine from yours, to watch my property, to keep authorized persons safe while inside,  and to keep unauthorized persons out.
Every building we enter every day has walls and doors.  In our own houses, for example, the walls and doors define the space that is ours, and they let us choose who comes into our space and in the manner we choose. This is not mean or racist or bigoted or unreasonable or immoral – it is the way civilized people live:  for example, our doors are usually in a common/public area rather than in our private/personal space (we might allow someone into our living room but not into our bedroom).  And if someone chooses to violate our space by trying to gain entry improperly or unlawfully, what do we do?  We protect our space by employing self-defense strategies or calling for appropriate authorities.  How can any reasonable person not understand this or think that delineating and controlling our space is immoral, inappropriate or bad?
President Trump has NEVER said that a wall was the totality of border security. Rather, he has repeatedly said that it is just another tool to provide border security along with technology (alarms, sensors, CCTV, etc.), personnel (additional Border Patrol and law enforcement personnel), and immigration law reform. It is a comprehensive, multi-faceted program. Here's an example: just because you live in a community with a police department and might have a doorbell camera, you would not consider removing your front door. Simple concept...If 50 people whom you do not know show up at your house demanding to be let in, you would be glad that you had a door and walls – and you would still call the police. And by the way:  when the police arrived and arrested the trespassers and some of the trespassers had children, the children would be referred to Child Protective Services while the parent was taken to jail.
The fight over “the wall” is obviously not about common sense or reasonableness or logic – it is about nothing other than the politics of one side disagreeing with the other for the sake of partisanship.  And this continuing, childish disagreement is harming the security of our country.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Not Just Guns And Laws

I feel as bad and outraged about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland, Florida as anyone – I truly do. And I understand the frustration of the students and parents and staff at this school and others across the country who want something – anything – done to prevent such incidents in the future. I have listened to and read the heated comments about this incident, the calls for banning guns and more “gun control” (whatever that means). But I am outraged as much about what I haven’t heard or read.

Because of what I do for a living, I have dissected and analyzed this incident (and most of the others like it) both frontwards and backwards. And what I rarely see (the shooting from Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas being a notable exception) is any outrage directed toward the place where the shooting occurred…in other words, the lack of security which allowed such an event to happen.

Consider just these few issues related to Stoneman Douglas school:

· There was nothing or no one to identify, prevent, restrict or impede the armed shooter from being on the school grounds – no outdoor access control. 

· There was nothing or no one to monitor, identify, screen, prevent, restrict or impede the armed shooter from getting into the school – no perimeter access control. 

· There was nothing or no one to monitor, screen, prevent, restrict, impede or limit the armed shooter from roaming through the school once he got in – no interior access control or response plan. 

· There was the questionable response from the school resource officer who failed to immediately enter the school to engage the shooter.  

But of course the measures needed to remedy these shortcomings – which are unfortunately common at most schools across the country – require more resources, and nobody wants their taxes raised or additional fees imposed.

The point I am trying to make is that there is no single or simple fix to prevent these types of incidents. We need to expend resources to reasonably harden our schools and other “soft targets.” We need to assure that we have adequate plans in place to respond to these kinds of incidents because there is no such thing as perfect or absolute security and such situations will surely be attempted in the future. And perhaps most importantly we need to expend resources to identify and deal with the kinds of aberrant people and behaviors which commit these heinous acts.  

What we don’t have to do is focus all the blame and attention on banning guns and creating more gun laws, because to do so ignores the real roots of the problem.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Security In Today’s World

We claim to be winning the war on terrorism; and we base this claim on the fact that there have been relatively few significant terrorist acts in the recent past.  (This does of course make a distinction between extremist/radical terrorism and homegrown domestic violence/terrorism – although the lines are becoming more and more blurred.) 

But our sense of accomplishment and almost-victory is belied by reality.  The bad guys – whatever their ilk – are in fact winning.  To make my point, consider the following:
·        Heavily armed law enforcement officials patrol downtown areas and sporting venues and public buildings and transportation hubs and election sites.  The Super Bowl is classified as a National Security Event.
·        The airplane experience has no resemblance to what it used to be:  removing shoes, physical body searches, extensive baggage screening, waiting lines to enter plane areas and board are now the norm.
·        The places we went to feel safe and to “get away from it all” – the movie theatres and restaurants and resorts and public parks and shopping malls are now the scenes of cruel and deadly attacks and murders.  We now go armed to those places.
·        The places we went for comfort and solace and healing and education – schools, churches, hospitals, day care centers, rehab facilities – are now places where the bad guys know they can prey upon the defenseless.
So with all these changes to the way we feel and the way we must now live, can we really say that we are “winning” the war on terrorism? 
I think there is some comfort and consolation in knowing that bad events are still relatively infrequent.  But I also think that we must never let our sense of comfort overshadow our sense of realization that we still live in an unpredictable and not-so-safe world.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Being An “Expert”

In the security profession  – or in any discipline really – being an “expert” or “expert witness” is usually not a position to which one aspires at an early age.  It often comes first as an ancillary endeavor, then perhaps as a full-time profession.  It usually comes mid-career, and often endures past career prime and even past normal retirement time.  So how does one “become” an expert?  Is there a course or test that must be taken to “become” an expert?  Here’s the reality:
One does not necessarily seek recognition as an “expert;” and “expert” is not a connotation or designation bestowed on oneself – it is status or standing in one’s profession as attested to and recognized and conferred by others.  Therefore, there is – and really can be – no course of study or training program or test that culminates with the title of “expert” since a true “expert” does not become so until the expertise is recognized by others.
An “expert” is generally recognized for a composite of professional education, training, experience, expertise, analytical skills, writing skills, presentation skills, involvement in professional organizations, involvement in professional activities as a volunteer, professional and personal integrity, professional and personal credibility – and having a good track record in all the aforementioned.  And in addition to these attributes, “experts” usually have some other traits that are acknowledged by others:   He is the “go-to” guy within his organization;  he is a “go-to” guy within one’s industry and/or among one’s professional peers;  he is actively sought to help with resolving problems or improving operations or developing strategies or developing policies and procedures – being sought to do for others what they should/could be doing for themselves.  He is regarded as the person who will almost undoubtedly do the right thing or have the right answer at the right time.
So being the smartest man in the world by self-appointment – even if true – does not make one an “expert” as the term is being used here.  Rather, it is the acknowledgement by others that one is the right person to do a particular job that distinguishes one as an “expert.”

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Words To Live – Or Stay Living – By

In the world of security, as in many facets of life, an old adage is absolutely true:  It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Concept Of “Reasonable Security”

Every organization has a legal obligation to provide a safe environment, based on the concept of “reasonable security.”  The owner/landlord does not have to guarantee absolute security.  However,  reasonableness and adequacy of security must be affirmatively demonstrated.  This basic concept is founded in most states’ case law (and, in some states, in statutory law).  In today’s world, there is virtually no place that can claim that no security is adequate.

The implementation or existence of a security program in and of itself does not guarantee that the program is adequate and sufficient, since the standard by which a security program will be judged is reasonableness with regard to foreseeable threats and risks at a specific place.

“Reasonable security” has been consistently defined by premises security case law to mean that appropriate security measures must be implemented commensurate with risks which are reasonably foreseeable at a specific place.  And a reasonable consideration of foreseeability has been determined to include the nature of the premises; the history of incidents at the premises; the history of incidents in geographic surroundings; and  any relevant industry standards.

Adequacy of security is legally defensible only when  vulnerabilities and risks are assessed via some conscious or formalized process to determine foreseeability, and commensurate security measures then  implemented to reasonably address those identified foreseeable risks (this is the usual standard by which adequacy and sufficiency of security is determined by courts).
A good process for developing a sound security strategy has dual benefits:  The program will be designed to protect the organization’s assets; and the program will be legally defensible should it be challenged in court.


Friday, June 12, 2015



good security means doing things that are not politically correct – you can’t always have it both ways;

doing the right thing is more important than following the rules or being politically correct;

the perception of good security is as good as or better than the reality;

there isn’t a good choice – sometimes you must choose between the best of the bad choices;

the end does justify the means;

it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6;

popularity of an issue does not equate to fairness or justice;

a verdict has nothing to do with a good or bad prosecution strategy or a good or bad defense strategy –sometimes a verdict is based simply on facts and evidence;

“justice” fueled by public opinion and media and political pressure is not really justice;

“justice” is not what someone wants it to be – sometimes justice is simply what is;

the cutest puppy has the meanest growl and the sharpest teeth;

you get what you want, but sometimes you get what you deserve.


there is virtually nothing that is purely or simply black or white.