Equitable's assets tightly secured
Equitable's assets tightly secured

Jan 1, 1999 12:00 PM

A report of a stolen laptop computer at The Equitable Life Assurance Society in New York recently prompted an investigation within the company's security department.Security staff reviewed the previous day's CCTV tapes with staff members and checked the access control system to identify employees in the area when the theft occurred. An individual was identified and interviewed. The employee confessed, returned the equipment and was discharged and then prosecuted.The situation is all in a day's work for Michael F. McGuinness, director of corporate security, who, prior to joining Equitable in April 1992 as assistant director of corporate security, was a lieutenant and executive officer of the Organized Crime Investigation Division at the New York Police Department. There, he oversaw the task force's involvement in drug investigations, organized crime and money laundering in conjunction with the FBI, ATF and other federal agencies.

McGuinness manages nationwide security for Equitable, which sells financial products such as life insurance, annuities and mutual funds, and is one of the world's leading insurance and investment management organizations. McGuinness' tough stand on crime at the company led to a promotion in 1995 to his current position.

New York-based Equitable has a number of locations in the metropolitan area and New Jersey, as well as sales offices throughout the country. McGuinness handles thefts of com-pany property, employee and visitor safety, contact with local authorities and supervision of 40 security officers.McGuinness' operation uses Casi Rusco's Picture Perfect access control system. Consulting firm Electronic Systems Associates in New York helped McGuinness select the product, installed by Access Control Technologies of Hackensack, N.J. As Equitable's offices share a building with other tenants, the card technology controls two elevators assigned to the company. The lobby area, restricted to Equitable, uses Tomsed turnstiles. Employees must enter through the turnstiles; visitors must report to the lobby's guard station. All exterior doors require card access and are alarmed.

The Picture Perfect system controls about 100 access points. Because of past experience, McGuinness installed card access on the service elevator as well. "It was difficult keeping equipment from walking out the door after hours," he said. "We found it to our advantage to keep intruders out of company space and to track service providers traveling through our location. It is why we opted for a card system when we moved into this building over two years ago."The system also allows for different levels of access for employees. Employees entering Equitable's section of the building swipe ID cards through a reader that releases a turnstile. If a card is invalid, the officer at the concierge's desk is alerted on a monitor screen and determines whether the person is authorized. The concierge also can verify author-ization for employees who have lost their cards.

Since installing the Casi Rusco system, Equitable has constructed a new facility in Charlotte, N.C., connected to the card system. "It works through the company's intranet, which enables employees to come and go between facilities with the use of one access card," McGuinness says. "Information is stored in one database in the command center. The control room can also monitor all after-hours activities at the Charlotte facility."

Two locations in New Jersey - Leonia and Harman Meadow in Secaucus - are being considered for integration. Presently, employees use a different access card system, with monitoring on site. The CCTV system incorporates 10 Panasonic WV-CP414 13-inch cameras with Panasonic 6mm-60mm zoom lenses and 3.5mm-8mm varifocal lenses housed in EMI SO-ITCH low-profile ceiling camera and EMI in-wall recessed camera enclosures. Some satellite security operations also use Panasonic 13-inch color cameras equipped with varifocal auto iris lenses.

The command center houses 14-inch color Burle TC215 monitors, an American Dynamics AD2150 32x5 rack-mounted matrix switcher, Robot MV99 nine-channel multiplexers, American Dynamics AD8025 24-hour, real-time VCRs, along with an American Dynamics 1573 quad video processor that handles call-up of frames and particular sequences, all housed in a Winsted six-bay base console. A Casi-Rusco Proxlite Access PVC photo identification system is located in the command center for creation of the proximity cards that incorporate the employee's picture.

The security operation is always expanding. Currently, the company is in the process of taking over two floors in the building to add to the existing 11. "We're running lines to connect the additional space to the command center and purchasing more CCTV equipment, along with additional card readers," McGuinness says.

McGuinness offers officer training to his contract guards who have already passed through the state-mandated eight hours of training provided by Copstat Inc., New York, a guard service company. Equitable guards get an additional 16 hours of training a month after hire and eight hours of refresher training once a year. McGuinness also provides training in how to look for security breaches, dangerous situations such as water leaks in communications areas, and hazardous situations such as appliances left on.

The force of officers carry Motorola radios and work in 24-hour shifts, covering the building seven days a week all year. They wear blue blazers displaying the Copstat emblem, gray slacks and striped ties. Eventually, McGuinness would like to have the re-entry doors on each floor locked and connected to the building's Class E fire control system. "This would enable electronic release of the re-entry doors during a fire emergency alarm situation," he says. "Currently, these doors are alarmed and left unlocked pursuant to the fire code."

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