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New security initiatives focus on “active shooter” threat

New training for guards, additional shifts at 66th Street, community outreach initiatives and more restrictive access controls are among improvements being made to campus security with an eye toward preventing an “active shooter” incident like those that have caused mass casualties in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado and at Virginia Tech in recent years.

“Active shooter situations have been discussed extensively in the law enforcement and private security communities since long before these high-profile events occurred,” says Jim Rogers, director of security. “But media coverage surrounding the recent incidents serves as a reminder to the community that these situations do occur, and that it’s up to all of us to be prepared.”

Community outreach initiatives led by the security office include training sessions for lab and department heads, led by NYPD personnel, as well as the development of brochures and a Web site. Because active shooter incidents develop quickly, the information focuses on options for reacting to a shooter before responders arrive, and on recognizing signs of potential workplace violence. Suspicious persons or behavior, as well as disabled or nonfunctional card-readers and door locks should be reported to Security.

An additional security enhancement has been to staff the university’s main gate with two guards rather than one during business hours. “This is to help ensure that even at the busiest times of day, when numerous pedestrians and vehicles are entering, every person can be checked,” says Mr. Rogers. The extra shifts were added last summer.

The Security office has also implemented new procedures for ensuring that access permissions linked to ID cards are kept up-to-date, particularly in sensitive areas such as the Collaborative Biosciences Center and the Child and Family Center.

“This works both ways,” says Michael Murphy, director of security operations, who manages the access control system that provides entry to 534 card-reader equipped doors. “We want to make sure that people who move or change positions are purged from the system, but also that everybody who needs access to a particular area has it, so that there is no need to prop open doors, share ID cards or circumvent the system.”

In parts of the campus where two different facilities share a building, such as Sophie Fricke and GSR, which contain both housing and CFC classrooms, additional card readers have been installed to better control access to specific floors.

For more information about active shooter threats, see

Theft of networking equipment is caught on video

A moving company employee working on campus in November is suspected of stealing over $25,000 worth of fiber optic networking equipment from a locked closet in Smith Hall. He was arrested on January 18 after Security personnel presented NYPD detectives from the 19th Precinct with video evidence and card-reader logs showing he accessed the closet as many as nine times over a few days, and removed items from it.

The incident first came to light when David Seay, a university network engineer, noticed the equipment was missing. He notified Security, which reviewed logs from the university’s access control system to determine who had been in the area. One name stuck out: that of a moving company employee who had been issued a contractor ID card a few weeks earlier. The employee was one of several from the company who were moving lab equipment from the Rockefeller Research Building into newly opened space in Flexner Hall; to facilitate the move the cards were programmed to allow access to space throughout Flexner and Smith Halls as well as RRB.
A security camera located on the B level of Smith Hall clearly shows the door to the network closet. Armed with the timestamps from the card-reader logs, Security personnel quickly identified the mover and noted several occasions when he entered the closet empty-handed and exited either carrying items or concealing his movements. In one instance, an accomplice appears to have assisted by momentarily blocking the camera’s view with cardboard as he exits. The suspect had no legitimate need to access the closet as part of moving operations.

“The camera caught him leaving the room with a box of network switches worth approximately $25,000,” says Michael Murphy, director of operations in Security. “We provided the evidence to NYPD detectives who then conducted their own investigation and charged him with felony grand larceny.” The suspect was arrested at the 19th Precinct. He has pled not guilty and is currently free on bail.

Security suspects the same individual of taking some 25 toner cartridges worth around $2,000. The cartridges, which are commonly stolen for their high resale value, were reported missing around the same time from labs and offices in both Smith and RRB.

The moving company involved has been replaced and Security has updated its procedures to ensure that contractors receive key-card access to only the specific rooms they need.