Sunday, March 11, 2007

Lubbock Kidnapping Part of Poor Security Culture

The Kidnapping of the newborn girl over the weekend from a Lubbock Texas Hospital, is part of a larger culture of poor security practices in the private sector. I see this problem in various industries, but it is especially an issue for Hospitals.

In a practice that has become commonplace, a suspect was able to walk into a Hospital, enter a maternity area in plain sight, enter a room, grab a baby, and walk right out without being challenged, either by systems or by other employees (who are a key component of any security system in a sensitive facility such as a Hospital maternity division).

When I supervised security checkpoints at a major U.S. Airport (pre-911 years), employees were trained to "challenge" people who were in restricted areas who were not wearing the proper identification allowing them to be there. And keep in mind this was for a s**t private sector company- but even they thought this practice was important enough to instill in the minds of employees. Hospital workers are supposed to be trained to do the same. Good security requires a combination of good practices and good systems. The best security systems in the world are useless if they are used in a place where good practices and a "security centered culture" do not exist.

Now, I am confident that good old fashioned Police work will lead to an arrest in this case (as it does most of the time). Although it often takes Police a little time to react in full force to these cases, sometimes due to typical Police cockiness, big-headedness, limited resources or a combination of all three. Local Police usually don't impress me with their response to these sorts of cases. It's the Federal involvement that gives me confidence- I envy the resources that the Feds bring into these situations. Local Police tend to be a little more boneheaded & clueless.

But this is a case that should not have gotten as far as a nationwide Police search. If effective security measures had been implemented by the Hospital company, this incident could have been avoided.

What really angers me is the attitude of the Hospital Company Executive, Gwen Stafford. Stafford, the Vice President of Covenant Health System, had the nerve to say during the Press conference that "We have a very good and sophisticated security system". She went on to say "I don't want to compromise the security system," in response to a reporters question.

Well, obviously you don't have a "good security" system Ms. Stafford, because if you did, the suspect would not have been able to even leave the immediate area where the kidnapping occurred....not to mention entering the area without being challenged and leaving the entire Hospital to make a clean get-away. And as for not wanting to compromise the "sophisticated security system", the system was obviously already compromised. The presence of this Hospital Company executive and her comments show that the company is more concerned with mitigating possible legal consequences, as opposed to being concerned about the child or establishing real security in their facilities. This is typically why these s**t companies send executives in to give press conferences after these kinds of incidents. This appears to be part of the Hospital companies effort to prepare their legal defense. They don't give a damn about the people they serve, or their employees.

So why do these things continue to happen, even when the threats are well known and suspect behavior is so predictable? Three words- Corporate Greed and Incompetence. This is why I despise the private sector.
It's generally the same kind of private sector greed and incompetence seen in Iraq, with Walter Reed Hospital, and with other parts of the Private sector.

What usually leads to these situations is corporate leadership not establishing a safety & security first culture in the workplace. An effective security culture in the workplace, especially in a Hospital, requires good policies from management. There must be an atmosphere that fosters the use of best practices, and rewards rather than punishes employees for being security conscious. Employees must also be free to complain (and make suggestions) about problems that they notice regarding security on the job, or regarding the work environment in general because in order for these systems to work... you must have happy employees who feel rewarded and comfortable with their jobs.

The other major component that is needed in the private sector is good effective security systems, especially in the Hospital setting. Once good practices and a culture of security have been established, it has to be backed up by the best systems available. However, what typically happens in these kinds of companies is that you have Corporate VIP's (often from out of town) making the decision regarding what security systems are needed, how the bidding process should be carried out, what company or system will get the contract, how the system is monitored, etc. And what usually happens is that the cheapest bid is chosen rather than the best system.

So you end up with people making decisions about security matters who don't know a damn thing about security and who are often not even familiar with the facilities for which the systems will be used. And through the bidding process, you often end up with the lowest bid getting the contract, rather than the best possible system, because these private sector s**t companies are primarily concerned about the bottom line- PRESERVING PROFITS. I currently work for this kind of company and I see this kind of nonsense all the time. Security experts, Police, Industry leaders, as well as members of the security staff...(and other employees) of the particular facility where a system is to be installed should have input on what kind of security systems to put in place. It should not be a blind decision primarily based on cost..... it should be based on which systems are most effective in providing security.
Security systems in these kinds of work settings should also be layered. There should be mutiple opportunities for someone to stop the suspect before he or she leaves the Hospital with a kidnapped child, especially an infant. Establishing an effective security system starts with the culture, and then moves to the design of the area itself. From there, a layered system of processes and people must be utilized. This includes having a security officer (or officers) checking people entering and exiting the area (something that I didn't see in the video of the incident), systems that sound alerts throughout the hospital and will not allow anyone to leave the facility while the alarm is sounding, and the alarm must sound before the infant even leaves the maternity floor or section. You also need an effective ID badge system that would not have even allowed an imposter to enter the maternity area in the first place without swiping his or her ID. Visitors could be given temporary badges and would only be allowed in the maternity area if they are identified before-hand and invited by a patient. Bio-metrics must also be used, either in tandem with a badge system or in place of one. This would require employees to have their fingerprint(s) or palms scanned before being granted access to an ensure that they belong there in the first place. And there must be a system of "Challenging" people who are unfamiliar or who do not have proper identification. It seems to me, none of these steps or systems were used in the case of the Lubbock kidnapping.

This is why the Feds (or at least the States....based on Federal Standards) should play a much more active role in regulating security in Hospitals. Certain standards should be required for all Hospitals, especially in maternity areas. The Feds already regulate security at airports- why? Because the private sector has repeatedly proven that it is incapable of maintaining effective security on its own. The same appears to be the case for Hospitals and other industries. This is basically because the aims of the private sector (to create profits) is fundamentally at odds with the aim of safety and security. The main private sector motive of making money often gets in the way of effective security policies. This conflict of interest makes it nearly impossible for the private sector to create workplaces that have a culture centered on security. The private sector cannot Police itself when it comes to security. This is why the government has to step in as an entity that has no profit interest and can therefore effectively regulate these industries.

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