Security should never be a 3-Ring Circus!


     In light of the gentleman who swam to J.F.K. airport.

     When it comes to the security of your facility, it should never be treated like a three-ring circus.  If you’re not going to consistently enforce the rules you worked so hard on developing and the hours of training, why bother in the first place? 

     I just recently took a trip to New York City for a visit with family.  We ate in China Town and took in a Yankee game, things I enjoyed doing while I grew up here, but it was also obvious that it’s not the same NYC.  There is a heavy police presence in Manhattan with streets I used to drive down now closed off, uniformed officers walking everywhere, cameras and bunkers with observation towers.  There are truck checkpoints at all the tunnels and bridges.  Seeing Manhattan as a fortress is great for peace of mind but what I observed at the airports just shattered all that!

     When did the Belt Parkway entrance to JFK become a cell phone lot?  Along the shoulder of the parkway was a line of parked cars that extended about a mile long.  There were passenger vehicles, town cars, limos, vans, and a few trucks.  Some had their emergency flashers on and most not, one or two even used imagination by raising their engine hoods trying to give the image of distress.  I was flabbergasted!  That someone with ill intent could get that close an aircraft.  I waited a while just to see what the deal was and in those 30 minutes, not one car was made to move.  But this was still nothing to what I would see at La Guardia later on.


I had volunteered to help out by picking up my brother-in-law up at La Guardia airport. The circus there began ON the airport grounds.  Right before the terminal, on the airport proper,  two lanes feed into one.  The right lane was not moving because it was a line of cars that had stopped and parked to wait!   Was this another flash mob cell phone lot?  This was beginning to tie up traffic as people who were trying to get to the terminal legally were now having to merge sooner.  About 30 feet away was a police kiosk where 4 officers were busy chatting on their cell phones and with each other while totally ignoring the backup.  It was twenty minutes before a police car appeared behind the cars and hit his siren a few times to make the cars move.  It wasn’t moving fast since there was also a traffic light that had to be dealt with.   The patrol car was rightly persistent and kept hitting the siren until he finally gave one long blast that finally got the attention of the Kiosk bound officers and they snapped into action by waving the cars through the light and getting it cleared up.  Well, I was curious so I followed the cars that were forced to move.  They actually looped around the area, were joined by new cars arriving at the airport and stopped again in the right lane as before.  What a circus!


The Point?  Security in Manhattan is fantastic.  Officers walk the areas, engage with people and the bridges and tunnels are under constant surveillance.  From what I observed, security was active and vigilant.  However, for whatever reason, budget or manpower, security is lax at the entrances to or actually on the airport with cars being allowed to stop and stay with no challenges by security.  When you institute a security plan at your facility, take a good look at it from a distance.  Use as many different sets of eyes as possible to get different points of view.  There are security consultants and companies that are willing to help.  If your facility is near water in the U.S. then you have received great guidelines from Home Land Security.   Are there lapses?  Do you have everything covered?  What good is having great security making sure no one who shouldn’t come in through the main entrance but they can still walk in through a dockside door that’s never locked.   That’s where training employees to casually engage persons who may not belong in your facility helps.  As simple as “may I help you?” Any security system is not going to work if you don’t consistently enforce it. That’s always when the proverbial OOPS happens and Murphy’s law comes into play.  At one company, we had empty rail-cars delivered for loading at night.  They were supposed to be checked as they entered the facility, but the guard became lazy and complacent and just waved it in that evening.  Imagine our surprise in the warehouse when we found a homeless person come off the rail-car and roam the warehouse.  Vigilance should not just be a bullet point on someone’s presentation to you!   Whatever your system;  card key, dog patrols, guards, video cameras on the dock and around the building, it works only If you stay vigilant!

6 thoughts on “Security should never be a 3-Ring Circus!

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