Always Room For Improvement

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From the Print-Only February 2011 edition of Security Management magazine. Philip Farina, CPP of Farina and Associates, Ltd. is one of the featured security experts.

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Always Room For Improvement

  1. 1. Hotel Security Always Room for Improvement BY LAURA SPADANUTA HOTELS ARE MEANT TO BE welcoming homes away from home, luxury getaways, or ports in the storm. But some of the people who come to hotel properties are there to prey upon or victimize guests. Hotels have to find ways to address these risks while still meeting their goals as hospitable venues. Risks The risks are wide ranging. Apart from Another notable security incident in- petty theft, a constant concern for hotels is volved a stalker who tampered with a hotel- whether their sites are being used for illicit room peephole so that he could take nude activity, such as prostitution, drug dealing, pictures of sports journalist Erin Andrews. or worse. Particularly challenging are cases The perpetrator was able to get hotels to like the Craigslist killer, Philip Markoff, reveal to him when Andrews would be a who lured women to various New England guest and what room she would have. He hotels in 2009. was also able to book an adjacent room “The victims in the incidents had all rented without raising suspicions. That case raised their hotel rooms legally,” says Michael a host of privacy and security issues. Soper, director of security for Radisson Hotel Then there is the ever-present terrorist Boston. “The victims knowingly placed ads threat. Hotels have been the target of many online, solicited business, and provided their violent attacks worldwide, including most attacker with their hotel location and room notably the Mumbai incident, where two number, and then opened the door to him hotels were among the sites terrorists took when he arrived. No rules had been broken.” over during their rampage.52 FEBRUARY 2011 I L L U S T R AT I O N B Y S T E V E N PA R K E
  2. 2. Hotel Security Hotels have made an effort to learnfrom all of these incidents and to adjustpolicies and procedures. Experts agreethat the most important measures includeconstant awareness training, good use ofsecurity personnel, properly maintainedcameras, appropriate intelligence collec-tion, and consistent outreach to law en-forcement.Awareness TrainingAwareness training for staff is possibly themost cost-efficient way to ensure a safer THE COSMOPOLITAN HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS conducts camera surveillance around thehotel. Many of the issues highlighted in clock and uses the cameras to assess situations in real time.training today arise from lessons frompast incidents. Key points include the Following the Markoff incidents, hotels Key Resource Operators and Securityimportance of not sharing guest informa- have increased “employee awareness of Staff” program.tion and of being on the lookout for any- certain activity that was observed,” Soper “The comprehensive training explainsthing suspicious. says. For example, room attendants, who how these protective measures can be ap- Data protection. Prior to the An- are the eyes and ears of every hotel, are plied to detect and deter potential threatsdrews case, most hotels had policies now asked to be “hyper aware” of rooms to hotels and other targets, as well as theagainst giving out guest information, but frequented by a number of lone male visi- fundamentals for detecting surveillancethat incident revealed that the policies tors. They are encouraged to actively re- activity,” Soper says. “We learned fromwere not being followed or enforced. After- port those rooms to security for investiga- Mumbai and past terror attacks that pre-ward, hotel management recognized that tion, he says. In that way, Soper and his operational surveillance and planning hasthey needed to go back to basics in train- staff, working with Boston Police, have been extensive. If we can detect the threating reception staff on guest privacy and been able to “identify and remove many in its planning stages, we’re ahead of thesecurity, says Soper. of these guests who had set up shop in game,” he adds. “This includes never providing guest various hotels.” Among the areas where vigilance canroom numbers to third parties, not pro- Soper says the housekeeping staff at his pay off is in the parking lots and garages.viding the names of guests in particular hotel is also now trained to inspect peep- Soper says that his hotel “trained our staffrooms either directly, indirectly, or inad- holes. Some hotels are installing peephole on what suspicious items [in the parkingvertently—and absolutely not allowing covers, says Joseph McInerney, president areas] look like and how to report thosepersons without room keys or proper of the American Hotel and Lodging Asso- as well.”identification to enter guest rooms. It now ciation (AH&LA). Cunningham says that Clifton says that his security staff runsalso includes being wary of requests for his hotels reviewed their peepholes and through some sort of scenario, such as aadjacent rooms, especially when guests resecured them so that they could not be mock robbery, almost daily to practiceare not part of an organized room block tampered with. what they would do in the situation. Heor corporate account,” says Soper. But many of the activities that occur stresses that workers must know that you Any request for an adjacent room is an when tampering with peepholes are actu- appreciate their efforts. If a worker reportsautomatic red flag, say the hotel consult- ally things that should be noticed by a a suspicious item, for example, securityants and security managers interviewed vigilant staff, says Alan Zajic, CPP, chair- responds back to that employee to say,for this article. Until it can be proved that man of the ASIS International Hospital- “Hey, we really appreciate your notifyingthe guest is aware of the request and is ity, Entertainment, and Tourism Security us about that. It turned out to be nothingauthorizing it, no such requests should be Council. That is why training of hotel but ‘keep up the good work’ and that kindgranted. Darrell Clifton, CPP, director of personnel is so important. of thing,” says Clifton. That type of feed-security for Circus Circus Reno in Nevada, Hotels do not have to reinvent the back “gives them some satisfaction….says that his hotel clerks are now fre- wheel when it comes to training. There And we always tell them we’d rather havequently tested on whether they’ll give are training programs provided through way too many false alarms than one thatout keys or room numbers to any random many private and public organizations. we miss,” he says.individual who asks. For example, Soper says that his staff has Philip Farina, CPP, of consulting com- Suspicious activity. Housekeepers, participated in the Department of Home- pany Farina and Associates, Ltd., advo-engineers, and other staffers are being land Security (DHS) training programs cates rewarding workers with a gift cardtaught to take note of anything unusual such as the “Surveillance Detection or certificate that can be hung up on thein guest rooms and corridors. Training for Critical Infrastructure and office walls.54 FEBRUARY 2011 P H OTO B Y T H O M A S H AW K
  3. 3. Hotel SecuritySecurity Officers » SYNOPSIS cameras, but 61 of them were inoperableMost hotels use unarmed security officers. Hotels are meant to be safe hav- on last check. Cameras are most often notFarina says he’s seeing a slight uptick in ens for visitors, but sometimes preventive, but they can be useful afterthe use of armed guards in the hotels he people come to hotel properties to the fact if properly maintained.works with, but he notes that hotels are prey upon or victimize guests, per- For hotels that don’t watch the videostill reluctant to use this approach for fear haps with petty crimes but some- continuously, John Strauchs, CPP, princi-of putting off patrons. times with far more malicious in- pal of Strauchs LLC, says that he often ad- Another concern is that armed guards tent, as in the Erin Andrews nude vises them to install fewer cameras toon the property could increase a hotel’s videotaping, the Craigslist murders, streamline the review process. However,liability. Additionally, in some cases such and the Mumbai terrorist attacks. he says, most hotels fail to heed that ad-guards can be a hindrance or cause confu- Hotels have tried to learn from vice because they like having the guestssion, says Anthony DiSalvatore, CPP, PCI, such incidents. They are continu- see a plethora of cameras.PSP, director of security for the recently ously revisiting and revising their se- Whether or not a hotel monitors cam-opened The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. curity programs. Among the latest eras live is likely driven by the size of the“If SWAT comes on the property, in event lessons being incorporated in staff hotel, says Zajic.of an active shooter or something to that awareness training is the impor- Cunningham concurs. “If you have aeffect, if they see someone with a firearm, tance of never giving out informa- small hotel…they don’t have the man-they really can’t take the chance to process tion about guests or which room power to be able to sit and watch thethat and see if that’s a good guy or a bad they are in. Hotels are also training monitor. It’s just not possible.” He adds,guy. Their [aim] is to stop the event,” says housekeepers to be more vigilant “In some larger hotels, you do have theDiSalvatore. and on the lookout for suspicious manpower to have a full-blown surveil- Hotels also ask guards to focus on hos- activity as they make their rounds lance department where they will havepitality issues, says James Cunningham, doing chores. people that will sit and watch monitors.”past president of the AH&LA loss pre- Additionally, hotels are becoming DiSalvatore says that his large hotelvention committee. The guard is “pri- more active in intelligence collec- does conduct 24/7 camera surveillance,marily an ambassador of the hotel to the tion, with employees or contractors and it uses the cameras to assess situa-guests,” says Cunningham. Soper agrees. scouring Web sites such as Craigs- tions in real time. In that sense, the sur-“Officers posted in the lobby can assist list and news outlets to determine veillance system has been a workforceand supplement the concierges by handl- whether the hotel is being men- multiplier for him. Instead of sendinging basic guest questions, providing direc- tioned or if there is a hotel crime more guards out on patrol, the guardstions, and other traveler information,” he wave that could hit their facilities. can use the thousands of cameras that aresays. Most hotels use security cameras, located throughout the buildings and Hospitality does not detract from secu- but they differ in whether or when grounds to check out an area alarm tority. In fact, by interacting with guests as they monitor them live and where see whether they are needed there. Somepart of their everyday jobs, guards can they place them. The Andrews case hotels, like other businesses, use third-become more familiar with who belongs raised the question of whether they party services for virtual patrols and gen-in the hotel, which may help them spot belong in hallways, but security pro- eral surveillance and alarm monitoring.suspicious persons. fessionals have doubts about how Camera locations. Cameras tradi- In addition, security officers are asked effective a solution that would be. tionally have been at entrances and exitsto carry out some ancillary duties as they Some hotels are also cultivating and in the lobby and parking lots—basi-do rounds or patrols, says Soper. “Security relationships with local and federal cally the public areas. While Strauchsofficers can monitor environmental sys- law enforcement agencies for crime recommends fewer cameras, others thinktems, shutting off lights, heat, and air con- prevention and investigation and that hotels could use more cameras, in-ditioning in areas of the building not in for emergency response. cluding in hallways.use,” he explains. The victimized sports journalist An- “Security can also be important to a Cameras drews called for hotels to install hallwayguest’s overall opinion of a hotel after Many hotels also protect their property cameras after she realized what had oc-they depart with regard to a common with surveillance cameras. The cameras curred, the theory being that the hallwayhotel issue: lost and found. Having an ef- generally are set to record around-the- cameras would have caught the stalker inficient means of handling these ‘after clock, but it is less likely that they are the act of altering the peephole or in thestay’ problems really can affect a guest’s monitored live, and it is also unfortu- act of using it. But hallway cameras wouldopinion of the hotel and their decision to nately the case that some camera systems be expensive and not necessarily effective,ever return to [it] or their likelihood to are not well maintained once installed. say hotel security professionals.recommend a property to friends or col- Farina cites a hotel in South Florida One issue is that “hallways are notleagues,” says Soper. that he has worked with that has about 80 straight,” says one director of security at a56 FEBRUARY 2011 W W W. S E C U R I T Y M A N A G E M E N T. C O M
  4. 4. Hotel Securitymajor hotel chain who wished to remain Through clipping services, “they can shooter drills in his hotel to prepare for ananonymous. Another consideration is actually see the crime wave coming up or emergency. Of having such close ties withthat some guests might consider hall down the coast, and they prepare for it,” law enforcement and DHS, DiSalvatorecameras intrusive. The primary objection, he explains. says, “It’s about being part of the commu-however, is that they would still not pre- nity. And…if you don’t participate, therevent incidents unless monitored or re- Public-Private Cooperation may be things going on in your own back-viewed regularly, which would require In an active-shooter situation or other yard that you’re maybe not familiar with.”considerable staff time. emergency, hotels will need to call on law Clifton also works with law enforce- If the cameras are not being monitored enforcement for help. That’s why it’s so ment when it needs the hotel’s help in24 hours a day, then having them in places important to lay the foundation of those stopping illegal activity. “Our local policelike hallways might provide a false sense relationships while times are good, says department uses Craigslist to do proactiveof security to the public, which could DiSalvatore. things like prostitution stings. They mightopen the hotel up to additional liability. In Mumbai, SWAT team members had set up something on Craigslist to attract“If something happens, and there happens to get into the hotel. It would have helped prostitutes and then make arrests…and weto be a camera there, and it’s a real inci- if police had been more familiar with the cooperate fully with them,” he says. “Notdent, then it’s very easy for a trial attorney hotel layout. That type of experience un- all hotels do, but I think it’s a good thingto make an argument that the security derlines how important it is to cooperate to do that; it kind of gets the word out thatwas negligent because [they saw the inci- with law enforcement. you don’t want to do that activity here.”dent] yet failed to stop it,” says Strauchs. It is also useful for hotels to reach out Hotels have also taken up the “If You Integration. Another issue is the inte- to government agencies and to get in- See Something, Say Something” initiativegration of video and access control systems, volved as regulations related to security launched in New York City after 9-11. Thewhich allows a hotel to get a visual in addi- are drawn up. Cunningham says the campaign has been spreading and is nowtion to data to ensure that someone using a AH&LA has provided recommendations part of a collaborative effort betweenkeycard in a certain area, such as a parking regarding hotel security to DHS. AH&LA and DHS.garage, is the person authorized to do so. The hotel industry is also working That’s just one of the initiatives that At Cosmopolitan, DiSalvatore says that through city fusion centers, such as the hotels have as part of their overall secu-the property uses cameras with guest assis- Las Vegas Counterterrorism Fusion Center, rity program. It’s a never-ending process,tance boxes in elevators and in parking which connects hotel security managers says Cunningham. “Anytime that there’sgarages. The guests can press the button and law enforcement officials on a more a high profile incident…that provides afor assistance and the guest’s voice and local basis. DiSalvatore says that he is in roadmap for us to review our practices tovideo image are fed to the security sur- continual contact with the fusion center. make sure that the practices and policiesveillance center, where operators can an- He says the fusion center has distributed a and procedures we have in place are solidswer questions and assess whether they list of the seven signs of terrorism for hotel and that there are no blind spots. How-should dispatch an officer to the scene for employees to be aware of. It also provides ever, when there is a blind spot that weassistance. training materials to Las Vegas hotels. identify, then we go back and we try to DiSalvatore works with the Las Vegas close that loop.” IIntelligence Collection Metropolitan Police Department to re-Hotels have stepped up news monitoring main aware of any threats. He says that Laura Spadanuta is an associate editor atas well as monitoring of the Internet to the SWAT team even practiced active- Security Management.detect cases where their hotel is being re-ferred to in connection with illicit situa-tions. Investigators also monitor localnews for mentions of the company’shotel chain, and they follow news ofhotel crime in general. Sometimes hotels employ clippingservices that also monitor crime waves inother locations so that they can be on the The little ads that CLICK withlookout for criminals who could targetthem. “There are itinerants, for example, BIG decision makers. AdBlocks on Security Management Daily are a quick, effective direct[who] habitually prey on hotels and resorts response vehicle for meeting your immediate marketing goals.that are seasonal. They work the winter in Find out more at www.securitymanagement.com,Florida, and then in the summer, they’re or call 1-800-368-5685.all the way up to the Poconos and Cat-skills,” says Strauchs.W W W. S E C U R I T Y M A N A G E M E N T. C O M S E C U R I T Y M A N AG E M E N T 57

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