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Securing Tennessee treasures.


BUILDINGS ARE OUR business, and security is one of our specialites," notes R. Bruce Bossick, senior property manager for John W. Galbreath & Co. in Nashville, TN. Bossick and Security Manager Robert Taylor should know. They both have a hand in directing the diverse security operation of one of Nashville's most unique high-rise buildings - the James K. Polk State Office Building and Cultural Center.

The Polk Center, which opened in 1980, is unlike any other building in town due to its architecture and mix of tenants. This 33-story facility has a freestanding, 18-floor office tower with a concrete core. Housed within the tower are the offices for the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, Department of Transportation, and secretary of state. Approximately 2,000 employees go up and down the elevators to these floors every day.

In the concrete, window-free base of this towering structure is the state's cultural center - the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) and the Tennessee State Museum (TSM). TPAC, located on six floors of the base, is the home of three theaters - Andrew Jackson Hall, seating 2,500; James K. Polk Theater, seating 1,100; and Andrew Johnson Hall, seating 300 - plus one rehearsal hall.

Though the performing arts center is located in a city known for country music, its entertainment opportunities run the gamut. For example, this past spring its calendar of events included jazzercise classes, acting classes, the North American Music Festival band competition, radio broadcasts, children's concerts, performances by the Nashville Symphony, and numerous theatrical performances such as Les Miserables and 42nd Street.

TSM - with exhibit space on three levels of the base - houses exhibits of Tennessee's history. Over 60,000 artifacts and historic pieces are on display including those relating to famous Tennesseans such as Andrew Johnson and Davy Crockett. Recently the museum, which draws approximately 250,000 visitors per year, had the opportunity - and challenge - to display the Magna Carta, an original copy of the Bill of Rights, and a draft of the US Constitution.

AS BUILDING MANAGEMENT COMpany, Galbreath develops complete security programs for its buildings and provides its own unarmed security officers, who are licensed by the state. Security programs include fire and life safety monitoring and inspection, building patrol and surveillance, emergency planning, and access control.

"The three tenants - the state offices, the museum, the theaters - all require their own unique combination of security operations," explains Bossick, "so we employ our alarms, closed-circuit television, and 42 security officers to meet those unique needs. But there is one aspect of security that is uniform throughout the facility - access control."

Access control into and within the Polk Center is what makes it stand alone among other high-rise office buildings. "The facility is a public building," comments Bossick, "and therefore we have to allow public access. But at the same time we have to restrict access to three separate entities holding valuable proprietary information, priceless exhibits, and expensive stage equipment."

Bossick, Taylor, and the security staff accomplish this feat by limiting access throughout the facility in layers. These layers of control consist of limiting public and employee entranceways into the building; using employee ID cards; controlling elevator usage; and employing various electronic locking devices, CCTV, and alarms.

Access control on the perimeter of the Polk Center is made possible by simple elimination of keyways on all the building's exterior doors. "You can get out," continues Taylor, "but you can't get in unless you come through the lobby door."

To get into the building the public and employees have to enter through the building's lobby door; authorized employees of TPAC enter through the stage door. In case of an emergency, easy exiting is possible through numerous fire exit doors, all of which are equipped with trip alarms. "If you exit the building from one of these doors, we'll know it immediately," Taylor remarks.

On entering the building, employees and visitors immediately encounter the first sign of security - the security desk, which is staffed 24 hours a day. Security personnel at this post surveil public and employee access through the main doors, down the main staircase to the museum, and to the elevator banks adjacent to the desk. This security desk also houses five closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitors and alarm equipment.

The next layer of access control is provided by the employees' color-coded photo IDs. The colors represent not only floors but also hours of admittance for each employee. During business hours, employees are asked to display these IDs to the security officer at the desk. After hours, employees are required not only to display their IDs but also to sign in at the desk.

The same procedure is carried out at the stage door but for a more restricted flow of people - TPAC performers and stage personnel. Security personnel are posted at this door to monitor access by these employees during a stage setup; before, during, and after performances; and around the clock if theater personnel are present. Like the employees for the other areas of the building, entertainers and stage hands are issued temporary passes, which are furnished by TPAC.

Finding one's way through the maze of floors to the appropriate office, exhibit, or theater may seem like a daunting challenge. The numerous banks of elevators located in the hallway adjacent to the security desk alone could scare off Davy Crockett on his best day. Yet, such anxiety is not necessary.

Each elevator is controlled to access certain floors depending on the day, time, and activities taking place within the building. "This plan ensures that history buffs, theater fans, and late night workers can't get lost," adds Taylor.

A security officer is also posted at the elevators during business hours to serve as a backup to the lobby security to ensure unauthorized persons do not try to access the elevators. After business hours, trip alarms are activated in these areas to detect unauthorized access. "For example," explains Taylor, "at 5:00 pm the museum closes for the day, and we key the elevators to bypass exhibit floors. The only way after that time to get to a museum floor is down the main staircase. The minute someone gets within three or four feet of that staircase, an alarm will be tripped, leting us know where he or she is."

The building's loading dock, which can accommodate two semitrailers full of museum exhibits or theatrical equipment, is a major factor in managing access control. "The loading dock door is electrically keylocked at all times and monitored from the outside by CCTV," notes Taylor. "If a vehicle pulls up to the door, a security officer is dispatched to investigate who the drivers are and for what purpose they have come."

Taylor explains that deliveries to this area will only be accepted after he or his department has received an authorization memo from TPAC or TSM. If such authorization has not been sent to Taylor's department or if a member of the technical crew of TPAC or TSM is not available, access to the dock is denied. Security personnel are the only staff members authorized and technically able to unlock the loading dock doors.

ACCESS CONTROL DOES NOT END once an employee or member of the public gets inside the building. On the contrary, the security department uses technological surveillance - alarms and CCTV - with human surveillance to provide the best combination of security for each tenant.

All three tenants have CCTV cameras in their sections of the building. Some of the monitors are programmed to keep an eye on high security areas on a 24-hour basis. Other monitors sequentially switch from scene to scene throughout the facility. This assistance enables security personnel to walk their tours electronically and monitor a variety of areas - the theaters' lobbies, the dock, and the stairwells - quickly from the central station.

When Taylor took charge of the facility as the security manager when the building opened, he realized the multiple uses of the Polk Center required a CCTV system with multiple capabilities, so he implemented a system with motion detection overrides. For example, if unwarranted motion is detected in one of the state offices on the 14th floor, a video motion detector analyzes the signal and sends the signal from the video camera to the central monitoring station, where it is recorded and personnel are alerted to investigate.

Setting the stage for security inside the theaters does not include CCTV. The primary security system used in safeguarding these areas is an alarm system. The alarms, which are connected to the doors, are deactivated at certain times depending on which doors will be used for specific performances.

"All of the building's alarms are tied into an energy management computer," explains Taylor. "It manages all the electronic and mechanical equipment - including our alarms, CCTV, fire systems, and communications."

If an alarm goes off or equipment shuts down or malfunctions in one of the 12 state-owned buildings incorporated into the system, the central operator and the system, which are located in the basement of the building, know about it. The system provides the operator with a detailed description of the equipment problem, runs a printout, and alerts the operator to dispatch security officers to investigate.

Keeping an eye on the museum's exhibits is a bit more tricky. Included in the daily traffic through the state's museum are visitors of all ages, especially school children. This spring alone, remarks Taylor, 3,000 to 5,000 students went through the museum each day.

Yet, handling such an intimidating number of children is not as difficult as it may seem. "Most of the time the schools assign parents to accompany the children as their monitors, but once they're inside the building we take control. It's easier to corral children than adults because they're used to more regimen," Taylor notes.

While CCTV is an integral part of the overall security plan, few CCTV cameras are used in the museum. Instead, Taylor and his staff rely on a variety of alarms to detect any unwarranted movement during the day and night. These include motion sensors, which are attached to all paintings and installed in the ceiling, and pressure alarms, which are placed beneath the artifacts. These precautions not only ensure no one will try to sneak off with the 1845 portrait of James K. Polk but also alert security staff immediately if someone tries to stage a reenactment of the raid at Harper's Ferry with the pike used by John Brown.

Protecting the exhibits from the visitors is in some ways easier than protecting the visitors from the exhibits. A few years ago, relates Taylor, an elderly gentleman entered the building with a donation - a World War I grenade. Unbeknownst to him and the museum's curatorial staff, the grenade was still alive.

The gentleman left the grenade at the main desk with an understandably apprehensive security officer, who called Taylor to the scene. Taylor, who had previously worked as an insurance investigator specializing in explosives, called the bomb squad and then took the grenade outside. Relates Taylor: "They took the grenade to a safe location and detonated it. Just imagine, that old gentleman had it sitting on his coffee table all these years."

Bossick, Taylor, and the security team at the Polk Center continue to search for new ways to meet the needs of the public and safeguard the holdings of this unique high-rise office building. "Right now our two biggest concerns are pressurizing the stairwells to eliminate smoke in the event of a fire and increasing voice communication throughout the facility," adds Taylor. "But looking back on our record - nine years without any major problems - we're very pleased that we have made a secure facility for such important tenants."

PHOTO : The Polk Center's lobby is staffed 24 hours a day by security personnel. Above, a security observes the activities throughout the building with the aid of five CCTV monitors.

PHOTO : The building's loading dock door, which is electronically keylocked and monitored by CCTV at all times, has been opened to receive a cargo of stage equipment.

. . . Joan H. Murphy is assistant editor at Security Management.
COPYRIGHT 1989 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:security operations at the James K. Polk State Office Building and Cultural Center
Author:Murphy, John H.
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1989
Previous Article:Planning for damage control.
Next Article:Security with interest.

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