The bombing at the Boston Marathon shook the nation this week, and it’s fresh in the minds of reporters and end users alike this week in Chicago.
“What are you looking for when you look for a terrorist target?” asks George Rosebrock, Security Manager for McCormick Place in Chicago. Publicity, to hurt as many people as possible, and to have an adverse economic impact, he answers.
“The Boston Marathon was the perfect storm location.”
Rosebrock, who comes from a nearly 30-year law enforcement background, was taken aback by the switch to private security at McCormick Place (the 2.5 million square-foot convention space), especially thrown by the lack of fixed assets. The weekly shift from show to show brings a whole new wave of risks, depending on the event and its topic.
“I thought, ‘How in the world can you combat anything here?’” he says. “You can’t shut down a show; you can’t check every package.”
His solution lies in his training as a Chicago police officer – learning to communicate with Chicagoans from every walk of life and get results. By increasing communication capabilities, building a rapport with his team and promoting “See Something, Say Something” incident reporting, he gets the entire McCormick Place community involved in security to hopefully prevent suspicious incidents from becoming security disasters.
McCormick Place also relies on close relationships with a variety of public entities, such as the Chicago Police and Fire Departments, the FBI, Illinois State Police, Homeland Security and the Secret Service, especially during NATO in May 2012.
At Columbia College, public-private partnerships drive change in addition to supplementing security.
When Robert Koverman arrived at the urban, private, liberal arts school in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood, the security program was run on home burglar alarms, officers patrolling more than 20 blocks on foot and a minimal budget. Now, the associate vice president of campus safety and security has a squad of AlliedBarton security officers on Segway patrols, an ongoing relationship with the IT department and a robust security management system.
Columbia College is also a heavy participant in public-private partnerships, however, and both Koverman and Director of Campus Safety and Security Martha Meegan work with the local Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) to manage contracts, address neighborhood concerns and develop bets practices. Meegan is also working with the Illinois Emergency Management System to develop “Ready Campus” programs, which ranks colleges in terms of security and disaster preparedness. Columbia College is one of 10 pilot colleges. (It was also
Meegan and Columbia College are also working with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications in Chicago to foster Chicago Public-Private Partnerships with many stakeholders, including BOMA, hospitals, railroads, education venues and more.
Incorporated into the OEMC Operations Center, the partnership is an integral part of some major activities, such as last year’s NATO event, says Gary W. Schenkel, Executive Director of the OEMC.
Schenkel also works on FIMS (Facility Incident Management System) to promote information-sharing between police, fire and emergency services (all located within the EMC office) and active partners across the city. These partnerships can help to identify key personnel within a variety of venues as points of contact in emergency situations, including major ones like in Boston.
If a major security incident were to occur in Chicago, dispatch supervisors at the EMC office would monitor the trends (power lines down, multiple calls from a single area), and additional trained personnel could be pulled in from other departments to help field calls and direct resources.
“Unfortunate though it was, the events in Boston bring security’s importance up to where it needs to be,” Rosebrock says.
I have the feeling that many organizations are already switching their outlooks from “if” to “when,” and security’s importance will rise all the faster in the C-Suite. Stay tuned for more coverage.
These visits are organized through the ASIS Media Tour, organized by ASIS International to introduce industry magazine editors to the year’s host city – Chicago. Tomorrow, expect to hear more from me as we travel to the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), the Museum of Science and Industry, and more.