Some buildings adopting new security measures in wake of anniversary.
There may or may not be any basis for the upgraded security, but building managers aren't leaving it to chance. Both Cushman & Wakefield and Insignia are beefing up their security protocols this week. The latter has forbidden its key building managers from taking vacation this week.
Tishman Speyer recently established several new security procedures at Rockefeller Center. Employees can no longer flash their driver's license or passport on the way in--instead, a work-issued ID must be shown.
Tenants are now also asked to file a visitor's list with the next day's visitors names listed on it. The list has to be filed by 4 p.m. the day before.
One Rockefeller Center employee says that Tishman Speyer floated the idea of hiring bomb-sniffing dogs, much to the chagrin of its corporate tenants who would have footed the bill. The management firm apparently balked at the idea after tenants heard the cost.
Tishman Speyer declined to comment on the central mailroom or bomb-sniffing dogs proposal. A source close to Tishman Speyer says that the firm never suggested the introduction of bomb-sniffing dogs into the facility. He added that none of the added security measures in recent days were prompted by the one-year anniversary of the attacks.
The dogs would have ostensibly been used at a central mailroom where everything that is sent to Rockefeller Center would be screened, according to the employee who works at 1230 Sixth Ave. The firm that the source works for has already been levied over $300,000 in operating expenses for added security since the terrorist attacks.
Such a mailroom--which doesn't currently exist--would be processing mail that is now sent to more than a dozen different office buildings. Consolidating all of the mail rooms into one facility would also be very costly.
Several high-profile firms lease space within Rockefeller Center. Publisher Simon & Schuster, Christie's auction house and broadcaster NBC are some of the major tenants here.
Tishman Speyer may be on higher alert given last fall's anthrax mailings, one of which infected an NBC staffer at 30 Rockefeller Center. Authorities sealed off the top floor at 30 Rockefeller Center and tested other NBC employees who worked there.
Needless to say, dogs are not commonly used to detect anthrax-laced mail. Their expertise is better suited to chemical agents or explosive materials.
Bomb sniffing dogs are very expensive to hire. One K-9 security expert estimated the cost of one dog with a handler at anywhere from $200 to $400 an hour. The top end can rise even more if the dog is working longer hours.
"Mechanical explosive detectors cannot detect what dogs can. Also, dogs are much more efficient, and time is of the essence with bomb detection," said Dr. William McCarthy, president of Alexandria-based Threat Research, Inc. McCarthy is one of the foremost experts on K-9 security in the United States.
Since the terrorist attacks, McCarthy has seen demand spike for bomb-sniffing canine units. When asked if their cost justified bringing them into the commercial buildings, McCarthy posed a question in response.
"If there had been three more terrorist incidents since Sept. 11, tenants would be asking their landlords 'why don't we have K-9 units sniffing our mail and loading docks?"' said McCarthy.
Over the past year, several days have been singled out by the government--or local law enforcement-as higher risk than others. The Memorial Day weekend was one such span, which was compounded by the presence of Fleet Week here in New York City. Not long after that, there was much concern about a terrorist attack on July 4. As we now know, nothing transpired on either day.
"Regardless of the date, our tenants need to know about the emergency procedures," said Larry Conlon, director of asset services for Cushman & Wakefield.
Still, the perimeter security patrols will be enhanced around his properties.
Asked about the demand for bomb-sniffing dogs, Conlon replied that only one of tenants--and investment bank--has expressed an interest in using K-9's in the mailroom since the attacks last year.