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News | Aug. 31, 2018

Physical Security is more than gates and guards

By Cathy Hopkins DLA Aviation Public Affairs

While barriers and police officers play critical roles in keeping Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, secure, they are not the only components in the center’s physical security systems nor is security only a responsibility of the center’s police department.

Federal employees, as well as contracted employees, are an important part of the system, which starts with an access control plan. 

Eugene Marchand, a physical security specialist with Defense Logistics Agency Installation Operations Richmond, oversees the center’s access control plan and works in the DSCR Visitor Center.

“One of the first stops for access control is the Visitor Center,” said Marchand. “Employees want onto the center and want their guests and family members to be able to come on.”   One of the most common credentials is a common access card, others are military or dependent IDs. 

Marchand said employees may not think of their CACs as part of physical security, but they are.

The CAC is issued through the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System and Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System, otherwise known as DEERS/RAPIDS.  Once issued, the CAC validity is verified by the Defense Biometric Identification System every time a gate guard scans it for entry.

Marchand said the Visitor Center staff can only validate and issue access credentials.  “Access control violations are addressed by first-line supervisors,” he said. “But employees need to be aware they can be criminally charged if they file a false report listing an access credential as lost or stolen.”

One of the things Marchand said he sees at lunchtime in local restaurants is openly displayed CACs. It is one of the things that concerns him the most.  It was also one item noted by inspectors during past assessments.

“I know I can go on the internet right now and buy what looks like a CAC; it isn’t, but it looks like it,” he said. “How does anyone get the image? By employees displaying them off center.  There is a lot of terrorist activity that goes on around us, a lot of the activities we can’t talk about, but there are specific threats in Virginia.”

Employees are required to report lost or stolen CACs or other access credentials right away.  “If access control cards aren’t reported and someone who looks like the photo of the card gains access, we could have an active shooter situation,” said Marchand.  “If a disgruntled, terminated employee’s card isn’t inactivated by supervisors notifying the Visitor Center or Human Resources, that is another potential active shooter situation.”

Marchand said because of ongoing threats to Department of Defense personnel, we remain at an increased force protection level.

Threat levels are a means of identifying a risk to the center and enhanced security checks law enforcement would take.  They are issued by DoD after they evaluate threats received from the FBI, Department of Homeland Security or other antiterrorism agencies as they relate to DoD.

Marchand said in addition to CACs, the average employee walking around the installation doesn’t realize the fence line is also part of physical security. 

“As employees are walking around, I would ask them to keep an eye out for problems along the fence line and then either call a work order in, contact me or stop one of the police officers driving around and tell them,” he said.

Laptops are another item of concern because of the amount and type of information stored on them and CACs are required to access them.

“If I take them off the installation, even though there are personal identification numbers and passwords protecting access, there are people who spend a lot of time trying to hack computers,” he said. “I see laptops displayed in plain view on a car seat, which is a security violation.  Your average criminal is looking for the easy way to get something.  Having your laptop or government phone sitting visibly in a car gives them an opportunity to break the window and take it. 

To practice good security, when traveling, at home or on temporary duty, employees should keep government cellphones with them and secure laptops in the trunk of a vehicle.  “Out of sight, out of mind,” said Marchand. “The average criminal is looking for easy opportunities and isn’t going to take the time to break into trunks hoping to find something worthwhile.”

Security breaches resulting in stolen laptops or phones should also be reported right away to local law enforcement wherever the breach occurs and to the employee’s supervisor, who will then report the breach to DLA Information Operations as soon as possible.

Access to the installation isn’t just about getting access to barriers or control credentials, it’s about observing our tactics, techniques and procedures to see how we operate, said Marchand.

“This center is a DoD installation and we know for a fact that we are being watched and information about us is being recorded,” he said. “It is important for employees to know this because when we know they are monitoring, we can take appropriate security measures as an installation and as individuals.”

If DSCR employees see something that doesn’t look right, like parked trucks, cars or individuals walking in unusual places, they need to contact police dispatch for an instant response.  Employees can also use the emergency contact phone boxes located on center to contact the police dispatch center.