Going on a field trip

Friday, February 1, 2008

Who knows more about security than the Israelis? Possibly only the Trojans before them have been so long assailed on so many fronts.
I'm confident, however, they won't fall for that wooden horse thing, should the Palestinians leave an offering on their doorstep.
To make sure, I'm traveling with Chameleon Associates and Infrastruct Security on a once-in-a-lifetime tour of Israel's most important security installations. I'll see everything from the central bus station in Jerusalem to the country's largest mall to Intel's manufacturing plant to the Ben Gurion Airport.
And so will you.
This month, from Feb. 10 through 15, I'll be posting daily video blogs at www.securitysystemsnews.com detailing the particulars of the trip. Don't worry, I won't be filming anything the terrorists might like to get their hands on, but I think the images will drive home the urgency the Israelis feel, how vital security is to their continuing way of life.
I hear people ask every time there's another school or office shooting here in the States: "How can we prevent something as random and mindless as this?" Well, ask the Israelis. You can't walk into a convenience store or coffee shop over there without passing a security guard or metal detector.
They take security seriously because they've weathered countless such atrocities and just about everyone there knows somebody who's been killed or injured in a suicide bombing or other form of terrorist attack. For as many Columbines and Omaha shootings as we've experienced, these events still remain distant for most Americans and we remain lax in our vigilance and security measures.
And even in those places where a shooting has occurred, such as the elementary school in Essex, Vt., that saw a teacher killed in 2006, defenses quickly come down. I read recently the Essex school removed its electronic access control after just a year because the superintendant decided "there is no reason to believe the school needs to be locked on a daily basis" (read the whole article on my blog).
No reason to believe the school needs to be locked? That's a short memory.
The United States needs to decide just how seriously we're going to take security here. There's something wonderful about the hope inherent in the belief that bad things can't, and won't happen here, but that's balanced by the scary naivete displayed in the shock expressed every time another one of these incidents happen.
Maybe we should stop being surprised and start being ready?
That's a hard sentence to write for somebody who doesn't even lock his doors at night. I value my privacy and my right to move freely about this great country as much as anyone. I have no interest in being patted down before sitting down for a fine dinner. But, every once in a while, I'm scared.
After seeing first hand the way the Israelis prepare themselves, I think we'll have a better idea of what the future looks like.