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Security v Security Theater

I was recently at a veterans event in Jacksonville and had the opportunity to speak with many unique and amazing individuals. As I was talking to these fantastic people, I was asked my thoughts on security at schools and airports. The people asking were concerned parents and curious travelers. This entry is a long form response to these questions.


Unfortunately, many entities have made the decision that “feeling safe” or “Security Theater” is preferable to actual security. A perfect example of security theater is the TSA. In a survey conducted by Boeing, many people report “feeling safe” in U.S. airports (Survey). The question is what is the difference between “feeling safe” and “being safe”?


TSA Misses 70% of Weapons:

“When does a 70% failure rate actually represent an improvement? When we are talking about the efforts of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to detect weapons at airport checkpoints.


Undercover investigators working for the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General (OIG) managed to sneak fake guns, knives and explosives through checkpoints earlier this year, getting the mock weapons through a depressing 70% of the time. The unclassified summary noted “We identified vulnerabilities with TSA's screener performance, screening equipment, and associated procedures.”


The Israeli’s use an entirely different method of security, one that does not fail 95% of the time (TSA Chief Out After Agents Fail 95 Percent of Airport Breach Tests) Ben Gurion has never had a hijacking, and the last terror attack was in 1972. In airport security, many say Ben Gurion in Israel is the safest.


The Israelis use a multifaceted approach, combining open source intelligence such as social media, criminal records, and predictive profiling. These methodologies along with adversary-based security, instead of reaction-based security, prevent hazards from becoming threats.


School security is not much different. Here in Florida, during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, law enforcement could only observe security footage on a twenty-minute delay. School Security Cameras Delayed 20 Minutes

Security in the United States is a political football. One described by organizations such as the ACLU as “racist” and “intimidating”. This type of pandering leads to Security Theater instead of actual security.


The ACLU does not want armed officers or security cameras in schools ACLU: Don't Arm School Police: “Having officers patrol the hallways with firearms sends a negative message to students. It makes many students feel that they are being treated like suspects. It can have an intimidating presence and can contribute to negative attitudes about police, in general.”


“Places of learning are not security zones or criminal justice institutions, and they should not be staffed that way.”


ACLU Protests Cameras In Colorado Schools: Judd Golden, the vice-chair of the Boulder County ACLU chapter: "Security cameras have not proven to be the right approach. We think it's a mistake." Security cameras feed student fears, he said, but do little to increase safety. "There's no indication that there's a need for this kind of prison-style security," he said. "The message it sends to students is 'We don't trust you, and everybody is a suspect.”


The ACLU is wrong on this. Cameras allow first responders to have vital actionable intelligence that saves lives. Having armed officers on campus vastly increases response time, from minutes to seconds.

The Israelis do not use a cookie cutter approach; instead, each school has a customized plan, with unannounced security drills. Israeli Law requires each school with more than 100 students to have armed security. Israeli Security Expert Talks About Tactics To Protect Our Schools


The decision between security and security theater has real world consequences. Do not allow political pandering, and corporate interest to undercut practical and effective security solutions that have been proven effective in a dynamic threat environment.

Contact me to schedule an appointment to discuss your security needs.

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