Security alert as WTC bombing anniversary marked.
The Area Police Private Security Liaison sent out the advisory to member security companies and private security officials early this month. APPL has been in place since 1986 and was designed to enhance the relationship between private and public law enforcement and to educate its members about special circumstances.
Full-scale APPL conferences were held during the Gulf War, after the World Trade Center bombing and after the Unibomber struck last December, in order to alert members to law enforcement techniques and to share information.
According to Police Department spokesperson Lt. Raymond O'Donnell, the February 1st letter was to remind security experts of the second anniversary of the World Trade Center bombing and to be more prudent. "They should be up to speed on what is going on around them," he noted. "Don't get lax. We don't want a repeat of the World Trade Center."
O'Donnell said the police hope the building owners and managers already have their security apparatus in place, but the letter was to advise them to heighten awareness in the buildings.
Marolyn Davenport, vice president for government affairs at the Real Estate Board of New York, said after the World Trade Center bombing, owners took a very hard and careful look at their building security and systems, and employee training.
"I think those measures have stayed in place, so we have a very aware community," she said. "Certainly, owners should continue with all the normal procedures."
Other security experts agreed that buildings should already have plans in place, but should ensure their guards and other personnel were being attentive and perhaps review procedures.
Mickey Schwartz, chief operating officer of Triumph Security Corp., said his guards ask for identification from people entering buildings. "Just signing in is not enough, they must show some documentation," he said.
That advice holds true for trucks about to enter building loading docks, noted Michael Julian, vice president of protection for Rockefeller Center. "In truck garages you should be checking bills of lading and the legitimacy of the company making the delivery and accepting it before the truck's inside."
Julien, a former Chief of Personnel in the New York City Police Department, said people leave packages behind all the time and that employees have to look for things that don't belong.
"Look in bathrooms and in corridors for something out of the ordinary," he suggested. But before calling the police, he added, try to account for its presence. "It's almost always that a businessman leaves an attache case or a worker leaves a toolbox," he said, observing that women's purses are frequently left in restaurants.
The police alert, however, is for the potential bombing of a large building as a "capitalist symbol," Julien noted, and that would require a large amount of explosives carried in a truck or car.
"Those bombs reek of diesel fuel and fertilizer," he explained. "So if [it smells or is] unaccounted for, then take action."
There is also the threat that a vehicle bomb could be planted in a parking garage or on the street. "You should reserve the right to check the passenger car and do periodic checks," said Julien. If you see monthly tenants, he said, you may decide to waive them through. Of course, that could be a ruse a bomber may use.
Julien advises conducting a risk assessment of your building and its tenants. Ask yourself, "How prominent is your name and your building? What is the risk against your company? Are you a target because of your activity overseas? Or are you environmentally oriented and could you be a target at another time because of that factor?"
"The New York Stock Exchange is a symbol," Julien said of one anticipated terrorist target now on high alert. "They don't have an underground garage, but they are stopping cars from parking on the street." While that public action was startling to many who work in the area, it is the kind of approach that certain building owners should be taking, albeit with perhaps less fanfare.
"If you are only one of many capitalist institutions," noted Julien, "by making the [terrorist] jump through some hoops, the more likely they are to go to another target."
Schwartz complained many building owners want security officers "that are cheap. But they are dumb," he said. "When you have someone dumb at your console and you get a bomb threat, what do you do?"
Decisions should be made about the handling of actual bomb threats. "Do you notify other tenants? What do you do when you find a device? What if it's the middle of the night? These are some of the questions Schwartz said building owners should be answering in advance.
Davenport said when building owners began taking a hard look at their properties a few years ago, and looked at the damage caused by the World Trade Center bombing, "We found that our buildings are remarkably safe and well built."
The security experts also agreed that the city has had more terrorist bombing activity in the past, and many deaths. In the 1920s, a milk truck was thought to have been the purveyor of a bomb outside 30 Wall Street. In the 1960s the city suffered from FALN bombings at locations including Fraunces Tavern and La Guardia Airport. In 1966, there was a foiled plot to blow up the Statue of Liberty, while a few years later, a home on 11th Street was blown up accidently by the radical Weathermen, who were bomb building for the underground network.
Nevertheless, Schwartz said that city owners are coming to a time when they are going to have to make up their minds what kind of security i s important. "It's no longer just someone walking out with a typewriter," Schwartz explained. "Tenants are not going to stay in buildings that they feel are not secure."
The worst problem, he says, is the copycat criminals. "The world is full lunatics," he observed. "That's why people like me have a living."
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|Title Annotation:||World Trade Center in New York City|
|Publication:||Real Estate Weekly|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1995|
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