Comments by: James KeathleyChairman BOMA-Chicago Security Committee

Sometimes it seems that security has gone away. Homeland Security budgets have been slashed in New York City and, given the incidents of international terror strikes, one can only wonder if we are as safe as we were in the days just after Sept. 11. Sixty percent of the respondents to last week’s Feedback Poll think that the industry is getting lazy about building security. But James Keathley, who is also director of security for Security Management and Investigations, argues not seeing it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

“People will think security is too tight. They don’t want security to be intrusive and hindering people coming in and doing business or hindering potential tenants.

“We’re certainly not getting lax. The security focus has simply been redirected. Previously, post 9/11, we had this very up-front, in-your-face security, with metal detectors, X-ray machines and turn-styles. Now they’re toning that down in appearance but still being vigilant. They’re not making it look as strict or as obvious as they were before. It’s important to be effective and visible without looking like a military instillation.

“Balancing access and security is a very tough thing. This is especially true for buildings such as the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Center and the Merchandise Mart.

“This industry isn’t waiting for the Department of Homeland Security to secure our buildings. Property management firms are out there, thinking about maintaining a quality security program and implementing programs that are real deterrents, that tell prospective tenants that this is a safe and secure building. And still, they maintain the appeal that will lure those tenants and maintain a high-percentage of leased space.

“Here in Chicago, we haven’t felt major DHS budgetary cuts. There are ongoing programs such as the police department’s terrorist-awareness training program, and private sectors security directors are invited to attend. So somebody’s doing something right, and I think we’re safer than we were on Sept. 12, 2001.”

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