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Protecting Ohio's past.

WHETHER IT'S GUARDING MOON rocks or flintlocks, the task of protecting Ohio's historical treasures requires the unblinking electronic eyes of modern security systems and the old-fashioned caring of a human staff. The Ohio Historical Society's department of security and safety is responsible for protecting an assortment of artifacts, buildings, locations, and people scattered throughout the 41,222 square miles that make up the Buckeye State.

The society maintains 58 sites that are open to the public - two are open year-round, and 56 are open in the spring, summer, and fall. All are open to scheduled group visits during the winter. The sites are staffed by 254 regular and 96 seasonal employees. The exhibits displayed at these sites cover prehistoric times through modem space travel, with one central theme ... everything is associated with Ohio.

More than 50 historically significant buildings are located on these sites, ranging in age from more than 200 years old to presently under construction and in size from a one-room schoolhouse to a quarter-million-square-foot museum. These 7,500 acres and 62 locations include more than 125 buildings, 11 earthworks, five geometrical mounds, and two boats. Of these sites, 20 are wholly owned by the society, 32 are state-owned, eight are jointly owned by the state and the society, and two are privately owned.

The Ohio Historical Center in Columbus, the largest building in the system, is a controlled-access building during the day and is completely restricted after hours. During the day, visitors, vendors, and contractors in nonpublic areas must register with a security officer and be escorted by a staff member. After hours, staff members must sign in and out at the security control desk. Exhibits and selected nonpublic areas are monitored at all times by CCTV, alarm sensors, and officer patrols. Entrances, exits, and hallways are monitored by CCTV and alarm sensors. All entrances and exits can be locked and unlocked electronically from the security control desk.

Staff members wear photo-identification badges while on the property. Officers stop employees who attempt to enter a building without IDs and issue them temporary one-day passes.

The security program was designed with many layers as well as checks and balances. The level of security at any moment depends on many factors, including the time of day, whether the area is open or closed to visitors and staff, and the value of an item. Many objects are of priceless historical significance to the state and could never be replaced. Others are valuable from a monetary standpoint and must be protected as part of the society's assets.

The loss prevention program was designed to protect objects and structures not only from theft or damage but also from wear, breakage, fire, water, sunlight, humidity, temperature, pollution, and other elements that diminish their value or longevity.

The security and safety department has a proprietary central alarm monitoring station. The system monitors fire, security, and critical building systems at most major sites the society controls. The central station is equipped with receivers tied to a security information management package, and the sites are equipped with alarm monitoring panels. All sites can be monitored at a second station maintained by the vendor or from several locations in the Ohio Historical Center.

A combination of dedicated multiplexed telephone lines for more valuable and vulnerable facilities and dial-up capability for remote sites is used for communication. We in the security and safety department evaluated each site's location and historical and monetary value to determine the most feasible primary method of alarm reporting. These methods are backed up with radio, cellular telephone, and even microwave transmissions, where appropriate.

The systems in use were installed because they allow mixed multiplexed and digital communications with a single receiver, two-way communications with alarm panels, and up to 99 different users per panel. Each alarm panel can be divided into eight independently controlled sections, and each section can be programmed to follow a unique schedule. The panels transmit an American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) file format, which makes data manipulation extremely efficient.

In some sites, alarm panels contribute to safety by controlling motors that power moving exhibits. Several moving machines and reproductions have pinch points and sharp edges that could be dangerous to visitors. Those areas are blocked by plexiglass barriers but are still accessible to the highly motivated.

Motion detectors inside the barriers are tied into security panels that control power to exhibit motors. Motion in the protected area sounds an alarm and turns on a blue strobe light, and the panel automatically shuts off the power. Staff can bypass the detectors with an appropriate code to allow routine maintenance while an exhibit is running.

A wide assortment of sensors is used in the systems, including infrasonic, ultrasonic, magnetic contacts, switches, microwave, passive infrared, stress sensors, audio discriminators, fiber-optic, video motion, and auditory, depending on the needs and circumstances.

The alarm monitoring systems are designed to be completely redundant, with backup equipment for all major components ready to come on-line if primary equipment fails. Supervisory and management staff maintain quality control. The security supervisor's and chief's offices are set up to take control of all alarm monitoring when necessary or to observe routine activity at the alarm monitoring desk. This arrangement allows them to monitor actions as they take place and intervene if necessary.

We have recently expanded our alarm monitoring capability and now offer free services to society staff on a voluntary basis. Staff homes and vehicles can be watched from the central alarm monitoring desk as long as their systems are compatible with our equipment.

The Ohio Historical Center is also monitored by a fire detection system and augmented by a CCTV system. Building heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are controlled by computer. All of these systems are monitored and controlled from the security desk.

The fire system is used to monitor a variety of detectors, including ionization (products of combustion), rate of rise, fixed temperature, photoelectric, flow sensors, and pull stations. The system is completely integrated into building HVAC systems and is used to monitor critical alarms and control electromagnetic locks on emergency exit doors. During a fire, the system triggers an appropriate response from the HVAC system and unlocks entrance doors for fire department response. This system is also tied to the tornado alarm and electronically locks exit doors on the west and south sides of the building, reminding people to go to approved shelter instead of outside.

The CCTV system was designed around a computerized control system, which allows staff to select and view cameras from six locations. The locations are arranged in a hierarchy of control over the cameras-a setup that increases camera use and effectiveness. Cameras are placed carefully, taking into account both security and aesthetics.

Most cameras in public areas are concealed in either dome camera mounts or track lighting fixtures. The intent is to watch an area without intruding on visitors. Concealed cameras have been helpful in observing, recording, and identifying potential wrongdoers, and on one occasion enabled the FBI to identify and prosecute a professional artifact thief.

Selected cameras are automatically switched to recorders and selected monitors during an alarm. This allows curators, security staff, and personnel located at key exits to view any cameras associated with a given alarm immediately upon receiving the alarm. All alarm conditions are recorded, and a sampling from each camera is recorded around the clock.

ONE OF THE MOST COMPLICATED problems of alarm monitoring is the matter of jurisdiction for police response. With sites in so many parts of the state - some owned by the state and some by the society, and some crossing municipal and county boundaries-we have to be very mindful of jurisdiction. We work with more than 100 federal, state, county, local, municipal, campus, and private police agencies. The jurisdiction at each site has been determined, with backup responsibilities created through mutual aid agreements or dual jurisdictional authority. In general, we deal with the Ohio state patrol for state-owned property and with local, municipal, or county law enforcement personnel for society-owned property.

We have one museum building that sits on the border of two municipalities. The front door is in one jurisdiction and the rear door in another. We have tried to impress upon both police departments the site's value to each community. When we receive an alarm from that site, we call both departments, the one called first depending on which sensor was triggered initially. On the positive side, we have a built-in backup for responding officers! Fire response is more clear-cut because most areas have a distinct fire authority, which usually arranges medical response also.

Most sites are occupied by a site manager and his or her family, who also serve a security function. They handle the vast majority of problems. We consider all staff members at a site part of the security team and encourage their involvement. Most staff members are protective of the site where they work and do not hesitate to enforce the rules that protect it. At the very least, all staff and family members serve as additional eyes and ears for the security department.

To assist these staff members in their jobs, we have established a statewide two-way radio network, which allows both intrasite and intersite communication. Selected sites have portable radio receivers attached to their alarm systems so that individuals working alone can press a single button on a hand-held transmitter to summon police, fire, and medical assistance.

Some sites are large or busy enough to warrant a uniformed security officer. These officers perform all security functions for individual sites or in some cases small regions. The remaining sites are patrolled randomly by a combination of commissioned police officers and private security officers, both uniformed and nonuniformed. Uniformed officers are normally used to provide a security presence and act primarily as a crime deterrent.

Several sites are large nature preserves located in rural regions. Their forests contain valuable hardwoods and rare species that would be nearly impossible to replace if lost. Preserves are also the home of many rare and valuable animal and plant species, some of which are not found anyplace else in the world.

The preserves must be constantly monitored for damage from man, ranging from collectors to damage brought about by water pollution or air pollution. Some sites are inviting to all types of individuals, from naturalists, hikers, and picnickers to thieves, poachers, moonshiners, and most recently those looking for a remote place to grow drugs.

Trail maintenance and safety are primary concerns in the nature preserves. Some trails are handicapped-accessible with blacktopped bases, braille signs, and ropes leading from one station to another. Others are carefully maintained to give visitors the impression that they are alone in the wilderness. These are marked only by occasional signs and vague impressions in the soft earth to indicate others have preceded.

Some trails are dangerous, with rock outcroppings and ledges to tempt the unwary. Fences, plants, and signs are used to dissuade visitors from wandering too close to danger. Thorns, briars, nettles, and poison ivy are controlled along the trails but left to their natural state farther away to induce visitors to stay where they belong.

Some sites have historic and prehistoric structures that contain artifacts and relics valuable to collectors. Staff members are constantly vigilant for thieves and pot hunters who seek to loot those areas. Other sites contain burial sites of Native Americans, European soldiers, and settlers and must be protected and cared for appropriately.

The society has initiated a low-wattage AM radio network to assist visitors. Stations broadcast from selected sites, giving regulations, travel suggestions, and information about the site and special events in the area. The messages can be changed by telephone, allowing unstaffed sites to broadcast timely information.

The state of Ohio and many of its jurisdictions are pursuing the installation of an enhanced 911 system. We are working with the Ohio Department of Transportation as it maps state, county, municipal, and township roads so that roads under our control are also shown. We have begun to digitize maps and site floor plans so they are available during emergencies.

The Ohio Historical Society has a proprietary, unarmed security department. It is based in the Ohio Historical Center and administers a statewide security, safety, and loss prevention program from there. The department patrols society buildings and grounds around the clock, maintaining constant communication with the security control desk located in the center's plaza lobby. The department is composed of 16 uniformed security officers, five control center operators, 29 uniformed visitor service representatives, six seasonal employees, a safety officer, and supervisory and support staff. Security officers are identified by the standard society ID badge as well as the distinctive white and black uniform with the departmental shield. Visitor service representatives wear a green blazer, which helps the public identify them easily.

The roles of the department are many and varied, ranging from traditional to innovative and possibly unique. Many of the department's duties mirror those of most similar security organizations. The security staff provides the primary uniformed and nonuniformed security presence. The department is responsible for loss prevention, rule and law enforcement, parking, identification cards, lost and found, key control, access control, and other similar security functions.

The security and safety department is also a service organization and prides itself on its reputation. Visitor service representatives (VSRs) on staff are trained interpreters of the exhibits and are often found leading impromptu tours when the usual guides are not available. They maintain audiovisual equipment for many exhibits and give school group orientations and introductions. Several VSRs are trained to show live animals and give group demonstrations on topics ranging from prehistoric objects to Native American artifacts. Department staff members answer telephones, help out in the sales and interpretive areas, and provide first aid when necessary. Staff members constantly review exhibits and report any problems immediately, allowing minor maintenance problems to be corrected before they become major issues. In fact, the security and safety department is often the only group of staff the public has contact with.

Special events have become a large portion of the society's activities, and the department is often called on to assist. This summer, we were given two days' notice that the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Traveling Wall would be arriving for a 21-day stay. We had to prepare a site and arrange for parking and security before the wall could be shown. It was shown on schedule, and officials estimate that 700,000 people visited during those three weeks with no major incidents.

We have carried our commitment of service to the community by acting as the American Red Cross Disaster and Emergency Response Team evening dispatcher for central Ohio. From the alarm monitoring desk, staff members monitor telephone and radio traffic for the Red Cross during evenings, weekends, and holidays, then coordinate and dispatch their responses.

We strive constantly to improve our systems and loss prevention programs. Each system is inspected quarterly, and written suggestions are made to improve the alarms or harden the site. New technology is incorporated as it becomes available. Our next major change will be adding a digital camera receiver so we can automatically transmit pictures from CCTV cameras tied to alarm systems at remote sites. Our primary focus, however, is our staff. We are constantly training and updating our staff in the belief that no matter how sophisticated or foolproof our systems become, they are nothing more than primitive tools used by our employees as they protect Ohio's historical treasures.

About the Author ... Michael A. Womer is chief of security and safety for the Ohio Historical Society in Columbus, OH. He is a member of ASIS.

The Ohio Historical Society

The Ohio Historical Society was incorporated in 1885 as a private, nonprofit organization. One of die largest state historical societies in the nation, the society conducts programs that identify, authenticate, collect, preserve, and interpret records and objects related to Ohio's prehistory, history, and natural history.

The society is authorized by acts of the Ohio General Assembly to manage the state historic preservation program, supervise and maintain the state archives, preserve and maintain the official portraits of Ohio governors, and act as custodian and administrator of state-owned historic sites. It maintains a large library of books, documents, photographs, and maps of historical significance to all Americans. The society provides exhibits on Ohio and its for local, state, national, and international events. Society recently returned from a 68-day exhibit in Suzuka Circuit, Japan, where they demonstrated crafts and shared state history with their Japanese hosts.

Sites range from a riverboat and two museums in Marietta on the southern edge of the state to a reconstructed War of 1812 fort near Toledo in the north and from a restored post office housing a ceramics museum in East Liverpool on the eastern border to a modernistic space museum in Wapakoneta in the west. The society maintains museums, mansions, a grist mill, a schoolhouse, restored houses, reconstructions, forts, Indian mounds, nature preserves, monuments, churches, presidential homes, a canal boat, a riverboat, restored villages, and even a portion of the state capitol building.

The Ohio Historical Center houses a museum, a historical library, and the headquarters of the society's business, administrative, and loss prevention offices. The center also houses the state's archives. The center's exhibit areas, which cover more than one and a half acres, display artifacts selected from the society's collection of more than 2 million objects. The Ohio Village, a re-creation of a typical post-Civil War village, is located adjacent to the building.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Museum Security; includes related information on Ohio Historical Society; Ohio Historical Center, Columbus, Ohio
Author:Womer, Michael A.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Feb 1, 1991
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Next Article:The art of museum security.

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