Amazing video by FBI teaches business owners about CCTV systems

I just investigated a burglary in Washington D.C. this past weekend in which a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment was stolen. If the neighboring businesses had had proper CCTV systems in place and operational, it would have been a relatively simple matter of obtaining video footage of the perpetrators and license plates of the vehicles they used.

This following link is a video produced for the FBI and it shows businesses what type of CCTV equipment they need, how to locate and position it, correct lighting, etc.

The video is shot in a similar fashion to an episode of the hit television drama series; “24″. It shows a hypothetical bus bombing in the U.S. and the subsequent FBI investigation. It teaches various techniques but dones not appear as an instructional video at all.

If you do any consulting to businesses or investigations, you probably already know that many businesses do not pay proper attention to their camera systems. I can’t tell you how many systems I have come across where the cameras don’t work properly. It seems that many use them as a silent deterrent, like having a “Guard Dog” sign on the property fence, but not actually having a dog.

This video is a great resource to educate clients on how to properly set up a CCTV system. We are all together in the fight against terrorism. Aiding Law Enforcement is not justy a civic duty, it’s a matter of survival.

Confusion on Captiol Hill

I would agree with Glen Thrush of, when he states that a series of false reports led to the closing down of the Capitol Hill area of Washington D.C. yesterday.

It would appear as if a passenger on the bus had observed an undercover or off-duty Police Officer’s service weapon and then reported “a man with a gun”. Whether or not that initial reporter blew it out of proportion, is unknown at this stage.

Apparently though, someone called in that the man had an M16 rifle. Of course that had Law Enforcement worried and hence the reason for the tactical response.

That is quite understandable – until they knew what they were dealing with, they did not take any chances. Had it been a crazed gunman with an M16 rifle, they would have been prepared.

It’s just a shame that the same sense of seriousness did not prevail in Amsterdam when a suspected terrorist was allowed to board a plane bound for Detroit AFTER purchasing a ticket for cash and NOT having any luggage.

Fortunately, there were brave passengers on board willing to repsond to the threat, but the bottom line is that they should not have had to take it upon themselves. Surely, anyone who is already suspected of terrorism should receive a full body scan and if there are still any doubts they should be strip searched. Full body cavity search? Sure, why not.

It seems that Scotland Yard are now working with U.S. authorities to learn more about the suspected bomber; Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, since he was a student at University College London.

The phrase; “Those who cannot learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it”, springs to mind.

You may want to carry a map as back-up

I have been missing in action for a few weeks following an overseas conference and a 24 hour a day contract that tied up myself and my team for the past month. It doesn’t mean that I have neglected keeping up with recent security-related news though!

This story that I heard on the FOX News channel this past week had additional importance and relevance in the E.P. field as it played a major part for one of our training teams earlier this year.

The story is about the possibility of some of our GPS satellites failing beginning in 2010. This would have a direct effect on GPS systems. How would it effect the popular “GPS in the car systems” that so many of us rely on these days?

Well, it seems that pin-point accuracy would not be possible. Instead of directing you right to your exact destination, the device might instruct something like;”Turn left in a half to three quarters of a mile”.

There are those who say that the life expectancy for these satellites is far greater than 2010. But what if not? How many of us rely on a GPS to such an extent that they would not consider trying to read a map? How many know how to read a map?

During an E.P. training class this year, we had a young gentleman from this area who got lost heading into Washington D.C. from Route 66. Anyone who has ever driven around the Washinton D.C. area will know that when you drive East from Virginia into D.C., it is virtually impossible to miss D.C. as you run right into it.

Relying on his GPS, the young man got lost twice, opting to get off on I495 to reach Downtown D.C. When asked why, he could not explain. Most likely he put in bad co-ordinates, but it was more difficult to get lost than to go as planned. Had he used a map as back-up, he would have clearly been able to see that it was a straight shot all the way in.

Modern technology is fantastic – when it works. People tend to forget that when they become hooked on technology. A fried computer is just a big piece of useless plastic and metal. If you are about to give a presentation and the projector malfunctions or crashes, should you just give up. Would it not be better to carry a flip chart and pens?

Security professionals can not afford to disregard the ever present; “what if”. Personally speaking, I believe in having back-up plans for my back-up plans. As they say in Ireland; “To be sure, to be sure”.

Not-so-secret Secret Ballot

For those of you who have been as confused as I have been over the Government’s support of the Union’s desire to do away with the “secret ballot”, I believe I found the answer this morning.

Up until now, there did not seem to be any rhyme nor reason why President Obama would be so much in favor of killing the secret ballot. This morning as I watched the news over coffee, the answer became more obvious. Unions raised and contributed more than $67,500,000.00 to the Democratic Party in 2008. Sounds like it’s their turn for a back scratch.

Last Saturday morning I listened to John Rutlidge, a respected financial analyst comparing the move to something that would happen in North Korea. He spoke from experience as he had just returned back from a trip to North Korea. In that country, citizens must appear in front of the Politican running for office and openly state if they vote for or against them. Do you think there there may be a slight chance of intimidation there?

There is no doubt that Unions have done a lot of good over the years. They have helped downtrodden workers to fight for better pay and conditions. That is admirable. Bullying, intimidating and ruling with an iron fist is not.

Workers should be able to vote in secret whether or not they want to have a Union. If this goes through, will we one day have to stand in front of politicians and point out the one we want?

Security companies in Washington D.C. became unionized recently. Some security companies are known for paying bad wages and not treating their employees very well. Union involvement there most probably helped a lot of security officers who were not getting a fair deal.

Unfortunately, the banning of the secret ballot does not seem set to help anybody – except the Unions who are probably expecting an influx of new (paying) members. There is talk that many companies will either close down or outsource their manufacturing to Asia if Unions are forced on them.

Do we really need to risk more jobs in these terrible economic times? Apparently those who handed over more than $67.5 million dollars seem to think so.

How much should you tip a valet for your…Bike?

You just know Washington D.C. is going to be congested beyond imagination for the inauguration when they are offering to valet park your BIKE!

Bike Valet Parking Available
In DC on Inauguration Day
Free Service Offered at 2 Locations Near Mall

(Washington, D.C.) If you’re heading downtown for the Inauguration of President-Elect Barack Obama, there is a way to avoid congested traffic and crowded Metro trains. With the support of the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) will provide free valet bike parking services at two locations in the District on January 20, 2009. The local non-profit bike safety and advocacy organization says it is prepared to park more than 2,000 bicycles.
“We think WABA is providing a great service,” said Jim Sebastian, DDOT’s Bicycle Program Manager. “With the crowds that are expected, biking may be the easiest way to get to the Inauguration and the bike valet eliminates the hassle of trying to find parking.”

The bike valets will be located on the south side of the Jefferson Memorial and on 16th Street, NW, between I and K Streets. Both sites are within walking distance of the Inaugural festivities and will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. A limited number of commemorative valet claim checks and spoke cards will be offered to cyclists who use the valets.

WABA says the service will operate like a car valet. “You simply ride up to the valet, a volunteer will attach one half of a claim ticket to your bike and hand you the other half,” said Henry Mesias, the project manager at WABA. “The volunteer will then park the bike in a safe enclosure while you head off to enjoy the Inauguration. When you want to leave, you show us your half of the claim check and we get you your bike and you ride off. It’s quite simple.”

The sidewalks on all bridges over the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers will be open to bicyclists and pedestrians, and the Memorial Bridge will be dedicated to bicyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists coming from Arlington, Alexandria, Southeast and Southwest DC can use the valet station at the Jefferson Memorial, while riders from the north can use the station at 16th and K Streets, NW.

Volunteers will help staff the valet parking and the Dero Bike Rack Company of Minnesota will supply the specially designed, American-made ‘event racks’ free of charge. In the event of extreme weather, the valets will be closed, but the unattended bike parking racks will still be available for use.

For more information, including tips on the safest routes to the bike valet locations, please visit WABA’s special Inaugural web page at

Be careful when hiring security for the Inauguration

I’ve been hearing and reading about security people looking to work in Washington D.C. for the Inauguration. Those looking to protect clients would be well advised to think twice.

The D.C. traffic is quite hateful at the best of times. How will non-locals be expected to negotiate roads and routes that have been closed and detoured?

One major concern for anyone looking to come to work in the area should be the local laws. Will you be properly licensed and insured to work in the area? Won’t you be a liability to the client if you are not?

In an earlier posting we discussed compromising one’s integrity and ethics. How is it possible to work in an ethical manner if one works illegally? Since every hotel in the District of Columbia is said to be sold out, many clients will travel in from Maryland or Virginia.

In order to protect a client in the Commonwealth of Virginia, one must be registered as a Personal Protection Specialist with the Department of Criminal Justice Services. Failure to hold a registration while engaging in executive protection is a criminal offense – punishable by a $2000 fine and/or 12 months in jail.

Clients: For your safety and liability sake, insist on using personnel who are employed by licensed security companies and steer clear of freelancers. If something goes wrong or if their status is ever challenged, it could not only cause you embarrassment, but could lead to a criminal prosecution.

There will be a lot of amateurs looking to “cut their teeth” in January. The wise will leave it to the professionals.

Why you nearly need a P.I. to help you hire a private investigator

So, you need a private investigator to help you catch your cheating spouse, or to work undercover in your business to find out who has been stealing or to follow the employee who is claiming workman’s comp, but you’ve heard he plays golf every weekend. What are you to do?

The first thing I would tell you is NOT to go to the yellow pages and pick out 5 phone numbers and ask how much they charge an hour. Hourly charges mean nothing. Think about it, how many of us would call up a doctor or dentist’s office and ask how much they charge an hour? Not to compare investigators with the medical profession, but your first priority should be: are they qualified to do the job?

This is the information age. You can research anything you want in mere seconds, without leaving the comfort of your own home. If you are looking for a private investigator in Washington D.C., or San Francisco, go to one of the main search engines and bring up all of the investigators located within a 30 – 50 mile radius. Do not worry if they are a little further away. Eventhough they will all charge you mileage, the more professional companies will have investigators spread out around the State or city in which they operate.

This is where you need to think like an investigator yourself and it doesn’t matter if you are the CFO of a $100 million dollar corporation or a stay-at-home mom. Her are some points you should seriously consider:
• Do they have a website
• Do they list a physical address
• Does their website list everything out clearly and concisely or do you feel more confused after reading it for five minutes
• Do they belong to reputable associations, both local and national
• Do they accept major credit cards
• Are they known for anything else – published books, white papers, speaking engagements, seminars, etc.

In 2008, there is absolutely no reason why a company would be without a website. A website “under construction” is nearly as bad. Several years ago it could be chalked up to cost. Smaller companies could not afford to pay many thousands for a site but these days you can have a website up and running in days for a couple hundred dollars.

A company who does not have a website, for the most part, is a company who is either not legal and must “fly under the radar”, or who is not making enough money to spend on one. If you hire a) an illegal company, you yourself could wind up being sued and if you hire b) the company who nobody else is hiring, you’ll soon find out why – but not before you have wasted your hard-earned money.

Any legitimate security company needs to let people know who they are and what they do. In order to achieve this, they belong to professional associations – local, national and even international. International associations are a good indicator that this firm is held in such a high regard that they command the respect of investigators around the world. Examples of international associations are: The Council of International Investigators (, INTELNET and the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF).

Once again, do not be fooled because a security person tells you their company does international work or because he calls the company “Smith Worldwide Protection”. Ask for references. Most of the time, clients need to remain confidential, so ask for the name of the Chamber of Commerce to which they belong. Call up the Chamber, or the investigation association or the State Agency where they say they are licensed and ask if they are: 1) known, 2) currently licensed and insured and 3) have any complaints filed/received any disciplinary action.

Remember, the best source will always be a personal referral. Failing that, decide after you have done a little bit of research. ALWAYS ask to see their investigator’s license or registration AND a copy of their insurance certificate. If they can not show you insurance, walk away or close the door. If I am hiring a plumber or carpenter or electrician, I will always ask for their insurance. If they do not have it and anything goes wrong, what will be your recourse? Even if you are hiring a security guard for your business – make sure that guard’s company provides a copy of insurance.

I would even go as far to say make sure that they just don’t have minimum coverage. Even though the Department of Criminal Justice mandates that security companies in Virginia only need $100,000 worth of coverage, we voluntarily carry liability insurance of $5 million. We do this to better protect our clients. If a person ever sues, they are probably going to go for millions, not thousands.

If the security company you hire only carries the minimum $100,000 and a customer is suing for $1 million, who do you think they are going to go after? You of course. On the other hand, had the security company carried a higher amount of liability insurance, they could have just sued the security company.

There will not be a huge difference in price wherever you are. In the Washington D.C. area, prices vary from around $100 – $150 per hour. It is normal to want the best deal that can be had and nearly everybody likes to save money. However, if you wind up hiring an inexperienced company who nobody has heard of and who uses young inexperienced people to conduct the investigations, then the money that you thought you were “saving” could turn out to be a total waste.

Here is an example: Company “A” is run by a young ex-soldier who joined the army at 18 and separated from the military after four years of service. He was a corporal and after he got out, he went to work for a local security company for a couple of years as a supervisor visiting buildings where other guards stood on post.

According to the State regulations, he could be granted a security business license based on having three years of supervisory security experience. He can not afford to hire anyone else so he went to a training school for one week and became registered as a private investigator.

Company “B” is run by a retired Police Detective with 15 years experience investigating homicides, five years in the transportation unit where he specialized in vehicular manslaughter investigations and is a court certified expert in accident reconstruction and cold-case murders. He too owns his own company and employees a retired F.B.I. agent and three former detectives with decades of experience in white-collar crime, gang activities, narcotic trafficking and sexual predators.

They both ask for a retainer of $1500.00 (retainers are usually $1500 – $3,000, depending on the length of time your case is estimated to take). You choose company “A” because they tell you that they charge $95.00 an hour while company “B” charges $145.00. However, after attempting to follow a subject for four days and losing them for the first three days and getting caught by the person they are following, Company “A” is forced to drop out or else you fire them (most likely ending). You can not even hand the case over to another company as the person you had followed knows he is being watched.

Company “A” then gives you an invoice for $20.00, since his botched attempts took 16 hours, which at the “bargain rate” of $95.00 per hour, totals $1520.00. Even if you refuse to pay the additional $20.00, you are out $1500.00 with nothing to show for it. Most probably the more exspensive company, “B”, would have accomplished the goal in about 2 days, at 5 hours a day, costing you $1450. With company “B” you would have had a professional product/service and had an investigator capable of testifying in court to support your case if that was subsequently needed.

The motto is: Beware of false bargains, for at the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Good luck with your search and don’t rush into it.

Nice one, Dick!

I was delighted to hear the latest news on WTOP radio tonight on gun control in the District of Columbia.

Apparently, Vice President Cheney is calling the District’s ban on gun possession “unconstitutional”. This is the first time the V.P. has gone against the Administration. The V.P. joins 300 senators and representatives who declare that the ban on guns goes against the second ammendment.

Owners of licensed security companies are sure to be singing Dick’s praises tonight. Washington D.C. is known worldwide for it’s lawlessness and drive-by shootings. One wonders if there is a criminal anywhere in the District who does NOT own an illegal gun. Yet, law-abiding citizens and business owners whose very livelyhood depends on their having access to concealed weapons, are prohibited and restricted from properly carrying out their trade.

Who in their right minds would think that the same highly trained and experienced gun owners (many of whom have law enforcement and military experience) who carry their weapon in nearby Maryland and Virginia are not capable of doing the same in the District of Columbia?

Hopefully this discriminatory law is about to be changed. When it does, maybe then guns will not be outlawed and not only the outlaws will have guns.