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Bright beginnings.

The registration desks at the ASIS 43rd Annual Seminar and Exhibits in the St. Louis America's Center were the first stop for attendees eager to begin their Connection to Innovation. Spirits were high throughout the week, as about 15,200 members, associates, spouses, and other guests gathered seminar packets, adjusted to the convention center layout, and compared notes with friends and colleagues.

Attending the seminar and exhibits is a long-standing tradition for many ASIS members. One such registrant was Chuck Fisher, CPP, of SecPro Services, Inc., in Bellmawr, New Jersey. "This is my twentieth seminar," said Fisher. "I wouldn't want to miss any of it - the exhibit hall, sessions, networking - it's all worthwhile."

Not to be bested, Fisher's colleague on the ASIS Private Security Services Council, James Steinbeck, CPP, president of Smith Security Corporation in Troy, Michigan, noted that he had attended the seminar and exhibits for twenty-one years. Steinbeck, a member of the first class of CPPs, was especially excited about the CPP 20th Anniversary Celebration, which would take place on Tuesday.

Whether it was the lure of technology, the need for information, or the chance to catch up with industry colleagues, each registrant had strong reasons for coming to St. Louis. "This is my fifth seminar," said Fern Abbott, president of Guardscreen. "In this business, you can't afford to miss contacts or you'll get behind on technology."

Ingeborg Sebyan-Larson, CPP, president of Sebyan and Associates in Burnsville, Minnesota, targeted session attendance as her primary goal. A faithful seminar and exhibits attendee since 1982, Sebyan-Larson planned to focus on sessions that addressed workplace violence and crisis management issues.

For Charles T. Thibbedeau, an instructor at Pine Technical College in Pine City, Minnesota, networking is a key element of the seminar and exhibits. "There is no better place to meet up with peers," he said.

Attendance at the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits is an essential part of every security professional's portfolio. Well planned seminars and an expanded exhibit hall, as well as all the related activities, made this year's event a premier Connection to Innovation. The following highlights will rekindle memories for those who attended, provide useful information for those who could not, and underscore the need to register early for the ASIS 44th Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Dallas, September 14 to 17, 1998.

Up and running. Notable guests and a lively performance by Up With People ushered in the ASIS 43rd Annual Seminar and Exhibits on Monday. In his opening remarks, ASIS President James H. Van Houten II, CPP, urged listeners to take advantage of the numerous opportunities available throughout the week. He noted that in today's competitive business environment, security professionals face two choices. "We can merely exist or, if we truly want to win, we can innovate and change."

Attendees also heard from two distinguished public office holders: Congressman James Talent, who represents the Second Missouri District and serves as chairman of the Committee on Small Business in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Mayor Clarence Harmon, ASIS member and former chairman of the St. Louis Chapter. Van Houten then introduced Up With People, who sang and danced through their presentation titled "Festa Humana." The celebration included exuberant performers dancing through the aisles, shaking hands with attendees, and singing original songs as well as old favorites.

Infused with vitality. Tuesday's opening session was an explosion of oratory from sportscaster Dick Vitale. Vitale, ESPN's college basketball analyst and former head coach of the Detroit Pistons, told of his rags to riches life as coach, businessman, and father, while shedding light on the qualities of successful people. As he enthusiastically gestured to accentuate his speech, the audience frequently erupted with applause and laughter.

"You may be wondering, 'why is a basketball coach coming to speak at a convention such as ours?'" he began. "I think we have something in common. We like to win." He understood that attaining "the winner's edge" was the reason many convention-goers came to St. Louis.

"But, it's up to you if you want to be a champ or a chump." Champs, said Vitale, have three qualities: passion for their work, a sound work ethic, and good decision-making ability. Just as important, he said, is what they are not: swayed by naysayers, insecure, or afraid of failure.

Vitale, who was also a teacher, said knowledge builds confidence, and confidence drives people to reach their dreams. "If you have all that," he admonished the group, "you have a good formula for the game of life."

Down to business. Wednesday's general session brought businessman Peter Ueberroth to the podium. Ueberroth - the president of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Committee - is currently a managing director of the Contrarian Group, Inc., a business management company based in Los Angeles. He espoused a list of changes he believes American businesses should adopt if they are to compete successfully in the twenty-first century. He said that security professionals can play a big part in those changes by sitting at the table with senior management and offering creative solutions for protecting company assets, personnel, and proprietary information.

Ueberroth said that security's role is paramount since employees and executives must be protected if they are to direct their energies toward competing in the world market. He said that security professionals can improve the corporate bottom line in more subtle ways than the sales department.

For example, he said that when he took over as commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1984, teams were losing money and attendance was down, problems he attributed to the fact that ball parks were no longer family-friendly. Security helped make baseball a family experience again, Ueberroth said, by installing surveillance cameras in many of the stadiums and cracking down on unruly fans. By the time Ueberroth left in 1989, he said, attendance had gone "through the roof."

"I'll know security is successful when CEOs come out of security ranks," Ueberroth said. "You're the linchpin."

In the crossfire. Thursday's general session, sponsored by the ASIS Council of Past Presidents, was a special edition of the popular PBS television show "Crossfire." Hosts Robert Novak and Bill Press were on hand to moderate three separate panels of experts as they explored the dilemmas between security and the right to privacy. Each debate focused on one of three topics - combating terrorism versus invading personal freedoms, surveillance versus the right to privacy, and domestic militias - patriots or pariahs?

The special guests for the first debate were University of Oklahoma professor and member of the ASIS Global Terrorism, Political Instability, and International Crime Committee, Dr. Stephen Sloan and the editor and publisher of the St. Louis Riverfront Times, Ray Hartmann.

At the beginning of the debate, Hartmann asked audience members to raise their hands if they would kill for their freedom. The majority did so. He told the audience that they had all just admitted they were potential terrorists and that the problem in combating terrorism is knowing how to define it.

"One person's intelligence is another's invasion of privacy," he said. The ensuing conversation revolved around finding the middle ground - allowing the FBI, CIA, and other civilian and military law enforcement agencies to do their jobs with a minimum of hindrance, but without impinging on constitutional rights.

Next, Constable Henri Berube of the Peel Regional Police, Ontario, who is a member of the ASIS Physical Security Committee, and Donald L. Wolf, the legal council for the American Civil Liberties Union Eastern Missouri District, probed the issue of violation of privacy by CCTV monitoring. In Wolf's view, Americans have been slowly trading away their right to privacy by acquiescing to CCTV surveillance in a growing number of public venues in the name of crime prevention. "I am against crime," Wolf said, "but when we throw away our rights, we don't get them back."

Berube countered that the fear of crime experienced by the public is creating a society that shuts itself in after dark, for example. He said he believed that people were losing their rights equally in this circumstance and that they were willing to trade off CCTV surveillance for the ability to go outside without fear. He also said that the courts are supporting the electronic evidence gathered by CCTV, consistently ruling that its collection was not an invasion of privacy.

The third issue was domestic militias. Antigovernment-extremist expert Daniel F. Donahue, CPP, said that militia groups share a hatred of the U.S. government and usually espouse a racist viewpoint. He said that it was important for law enforcement agencies to be able to collect intelligence on these groups without undue hindrance. "We are the only nation in the world with private armies running around in the woods on weekends," Donahue stated, saying that more antimilitia and paramilitary laws needed to be passed.

The viewpoint of one militia group, the First Missouri Volunteers, was expressed by Vietnam combat veteran Colonel John Moore, who told the audience that militias do not advocate illegal or violent actions, but were instead a reasonable response to government law enforcement agencies that had run amok. He cautioned the audience to distinguish between extremist groups that have some separatist and military overtones with true militias. "The Missouri Militia is not about breaking the law," Moore stressed. "We pay taxes, follow the law, and have legal guidance."

The lively debates ended with questions from the audience and further discussion of the topics among attendees even after the program concluded.

RELATED ARTICLE: Media Event of the Week

The Media Center was busier than ever assisting visiting camera crews and reporters and hosting a full schedule of conferences.

Representatives from the Canadian Broadcasting Company and local ABC and NBC affiliates showed up early Monday morning. The camera crews spent hours filming inside the exhibit hall and elsewhere. The ABC crew, for example, filmed demonstrations of nonlethal technology at the booth of Air Taser, Inc.

The week's activities attracted press from security-related media as well. The growing participation in the Society by facilities managers tasked with security duties was reflected in media coverage of the seminar and exhibits by professional publications focusing on these specialties. Their interest centered primarily on biometrics such as fingerprinting.

The media center also managed press conferences for exhibitors. For example, the Security Industry Association introduced its 1997 CCTV for Public Safety Report, Westinghouse Security Electronics held a press conference to detail corporate changes, the Scarman Centre publicized a new master's degree distance learning program, the O'Gara Company and Kroll Associates announced an agreement to merge, and the following companies were among those that unveiled new products: Applied Integration Corporation; Matrix Systems, Inc.; Miros, Inc.; Research Electronics International; System Integrators; TeleSite USA, Inc.; TransNational Security Group, and Wood Surveillance Technology.
COPYRIGHT 1997 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:ASIS 43rd Annual Seminar and Exhibits; includes related article on the convention's media coverage; 43rd annual meeting of the American Society for industrial Security
Publication:Security Management
Date:Dec 1, 1997
Previous Article:Security must go on.
Next Article:Yearning to learn.

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