As the NFL football playoff season enters a fever pitch, you might consider hosting a tailgate party before heading into the stadium for the big game. And I definitely suggest doing so. First things first…stock up on beef jerky. But tailgating of an entirely different sort may be putting your property at risk. Even if the security team at your building has things well in hand with turnstiles, documented access, PIN numbers or visitor badges, the practice of quickly slipping in behind someone who has passed through screening is called tailgating and is a very common technique for breaching building security. Is your building at risk?
The threat might start out innocently enough—with an employee opening a door and thoughtfully holding it open for others, or security personnel naively trusting and allowing entry of uniformed workers who are carrying heavy packages. But these seemingly common courtesies could put your company in harm’s way. So the way to protect your property is to develop, adopt and stringently adhere to anti-tailgating strategies. Or you could always hire a guard dog, which is my personal recommendation.
At RJWestmore, we have come up with some simple suggestions for preventing tailgaters, built on the acronym “STOP TAILGATERS.”
Security First—the first step to prevent unauthorized entry to your building is to proactively develop a comprehensive security plan for your property. My wife and I have a plan in place which includes barking at unwelcome visitors.
Teach your tenants and employees the risk of ignoring security protocols. If they understand the tailgating can expose your building to domestic violence, theft, sabotage, and terrorism, they might be more inclined to follow the rules.
Open your doors only to people who have valid IDs and associated PINS (where necessary), or stop to sign in as visitors.
People who are already allowed access to your building might also present security risks if admitted to every area of the property. Since not all threats are external, restrict access for subpopulations for high-security areas such as laboratories, pharmacies, operating or equipment rooms and computer centers. You may want also want to restrict and track access to valuable equipment, sensitive files, copy machines and areas containing toxic chemicals. You also might want to restrict access to the kitchen if your visitors are of the four-footed variety.
Tailgating not only affects safety but building management practices as well. If your HVAC or lighting system is tied to occupancy, an influx of unexpected bodies could affect energy-spend.
Allow flexibility in your plan. The security system that is right for you will depend on the specific entry points you wish to secure, location of the entrance, the reason for controlling access to it and the flexibility of your budget.
Inaccurate headcounts during emergencies can lead to occupants unknowingly being left behind or emergency personnel needlessly searching for people who were never on the premises. So make sure that the system you adopt keeps accurate counts.
Leave security to professionals. If you have a security system in place and believe that your building is important enough to protect, why would you allow unauthorized access to it? For a fail-safe system, hire a team of pros.
Guards might be worth the expense. While you might be inclined to cut personnel costs by eliminating security guards, you should consider a simple cost-benefit analysis to decide whether full-time security guards might be right for you. Guards can visually confirm badges match the people seeking to gain entry. Guard dogs are always an option, though they might not be able to understand the subtleties of customer relations.
Anti-tailgating programs are most effective if they are multi-pronged. So consider adopting more than one strategy for keeping tailgaters at bay.
Timothy McVeigh was granted access to the Oklahoma City building he blew up long before he committed the crime. So, when it comes to granting access to unauthorized personnel, better safe than sorry. Canine crimes are not usually premeditated. Just sayin’.
Everyone in your building should be aware of the safekeeping culture. So consider holding safety seminars or providing materials that clearly communicate your security system.
Risks to building safety frequently result in crimes carried out by someone you didn’t even know was in your building. So make sure your security team understands their role as gatekeepers.
Smart cards house multiple credentials on one card. Consider issuing these to building tenants, employees and visitors to electronically track traffic. For dogs, you might consider issuing Smart Snacks instead.
Tailgating strategies are easy to retrofit and complement most existing security systems. So adopt those systems that will work best for you and then build a culture that encourages adherence to the plan. Even if you have the best security system on the market, your safety measures will fail if occupants don’t buy in.
When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact RJ Westmore, Inc. Our new Version 2.5 e-based training system offers the best emergency training system with automated and integrated features. Visit RJWestmore.com for more information.