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That's Not Us

That's Not Us The world we inhabit has morphed so dramatically over the past 30 years it is nearly impossible to intellectualize the transformation.

The part that I find the most difficult to comprehend, being a security professional, is how slowly the general public grasps this paradigm shift relative to how much we think about our safety. It is the acceptance, from a life safety/security perspective, just how much it has changed. The term “life safety” is usually reserved for fire safety systems, in our current environment, what is at stake is our lives.

So, what does the “That’s Not Us” title have to do with this. There is always a story, especially with me, please indulge. When working at the PA School Board Association Convention Trade Show, held at the Philadelphia Convention Center; a detail that is mentioned to emphasize this observation is based on a large sampling of attendees. We were discussing walk-through metal detectors and other devices relative to school access control and detection of potential lethal weapons while at a vendor booth. From almost every board member we spoke with we heard these words, “that’s not us”. It almost seemed they all had coordinated their responses. The following week there was a special meeting of the safety directors and others related to the PA public school systems. I was there with the same vendor I spoke to the week before showcasing the same equipment, just a much smaller venue. It was as if I was with an entirely different segment of our society. I did not hear “that’s not us’, except several rare responses. This group is in touch with holistic school safety. They are in the schools every day aware of the paradigm shift. They had an entirely different perception of exactly the same reality.

In synagogue one Saturday morning, I experienced the same lack of grasp of the paradigm change, albeit a more esoteric setting. . Before we had an armed guard for sabbath services, I strongly objected that the door was left propped open, much less unlocked. The building is set back over 200 feet from the main road. I raised a strong objection to this practice, the security professional in me felt it was necessary for the small group present to think about the danger this practice placed them in order to raise intelligent awareness. This was more than a year after the horrific synagogue tragedy in Pittsburgh. A regular attendee, a very intelligent and thoughtful person, stated, “leave the door unlocked. It is too inconvenient; I am not worried.” There had been an access control system in place for several years at the synagogue. All members have access to their own key fobs, so they may have convenient authorized entry to the building, while the doors can remain properly locked. Obviously, this is the entire purpose for the electronic security measure.

Both scenarios are symptoms of stakeholders not willing to accept the paradigm shift. The deep analytical reasons for this inability for so much of society’s recalcitrance to logical security steps is above my professional training. We Americans are a stubborn and proud lot that values our freedom and convenience.

What is our response? Are things really changing that much to affect a paradigm shift to our lifestyle in the United States? How should we view, and respond to this? We’ll explore these questions, along with a discussion of security grants next edition.

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