Preventing Terrorism in the drug wars
Preventing Terrorism in the drug wars

Oct 1, 2000 12:00 PM

In the tropical paradise of Key West, Fla., 90 miles from Cuba, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, stands the Joint Interagency Task Force East (JIATF East), a four-building Department of Defense compound dedicated primarily to fighting drug smuggling activities. The intelligence gathered in these offices is responsible for intercepting $1.25 million of cocaine per day.

JIATF East is comprised of active and reserve members from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Government agencies represented at the compound include the FBI, DEA, Defense Intelligence Agency, Customs and Treasury Departments and liaison officers from Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. Last year, well over 100 metric tons of cocaine was seized or destroyed due to the agency's efforts.

The JIATF has used the Ultrak SAFEnet access control system for nearly seven years. The system consists of 100 card readers which are reconfigured daily to accommodate changes in personnel and confidentiality classifications. The system has been upgraded in the last year and a half but, as the face of world terrorism changed in the past decade, with bombings at places such as the World Trade Center in New York and the federal building in Oklahoma City, JIATF East security experts took a good, hard look at security. They decided greater protection was necessary, particularly around the approximately 2,500-foot perimeter.

Security manager Alan Mather and senior electrical engineer Terry Campbell had concerns about perimeter security and incoming traffic. "You could park right next to the buildings, which were built in the late 1950s and had not been changed," says Mather. "With the change in the dynamics of terrorism, we knew we needed better protection for our periphery."

Moreover, mail and small shipments came directly to the compound, with larger shipments directed eight miles away to Naval Air Station Key West at Boca Chica Key.

"We wanted to keep deliveries away from the main compound, and to have a set-back distance so vehicles could not park right next to the buildings. The distance is a key element in the force protection program being implemented at U.S. military bases and installations worldwide," adds Mather.

"The impetus for the project came in April 1997, when then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili directed combatant commanders to conduct anti-terrorism/Force Protection assessments of their subordinate commands in the aftermath of the bombing at the Khobar Towers military complex in Saudi Arabia," says Mather.

A team examined JIATF East and made recommendations, which were later validated by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Protective Design Center study. Rerouting vehicle traffic away from the buildings that house some 350 employees on a 20-acre site was a central focus of the studies.

As a result of the recommendations, vehicular traffic has been set-back from the main compound, parking lots secured, mail and large shipments have been routed to a 3,000-square-foot "trans-shipment" building just under 600 feet from the main compound, and pedestrian traffic is controlled by strategically placed turnstiles. Remote terminal units (RTU) control parking lot and turnstile access points. Pan/tilt/zoom and fixed cameras located at turnstiles, parking lot entry points, and the trans-shipment building are integrated with the Ultrak system.

In addition, five Delta Scientific barriers have been placed at the front and back of the compound, and at the VIP entrance, also called Ceremonial Drive. This system includes a laser scanner, barricades, and a magnetic loop. Fiber-optic cable carries information from the scanner to the Delta Scientific master panel in the central command center.

There was another element to the JIATF East situation that both made it more complex and ultimately resulted in a unique solution to the periphery protection issue. While the compound needed to be secure, it also had to look good for morale, and to fit in with the existing aesthetics of Key West. "Typical quick solutions to threats are a fortress approach with Jersey barriers and guard rails," says Mather. "This is unsightly and creates a bunkered morale factor for employees."

The U.S. Navy has plans to build a complex of cottages at Truman Annex, near JIATF East, dedicated to morale, welfare and recreation. Not only did the security plan have to fit in with this mission, but also with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan to transition approximately 60 acres of Truman Annex to the City of Key West.

Although Mather, Campbell and their staff had outfitted the compound with state-of-the-art electronic security, they were puzzled about how to similarly secure the periphery and still preserve the aesthetics of Key West. Personnel with both security and architectural design expertise were not available on base, and financial resources did not allow for the hiring of a firm specializing in security design.

To resolve the security design problems facing the compound, Mather consulted the book, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design: Applications of Architectural Design and Space Management Concepts, by Timothy D. Crowe, a criminologist and security consultant. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is an approach which has gained in popularity in the past decade.

In January of 1997, Mather contacted the College of Architecture at the University of Florida, asking for help with the security design project. Dr. Richard Schneider of the University's Urban and Regional Planning Department accepted the project and assembled an interdisciplinary team of graduate students and professors.

"Professor Schneider used the JIATF East project as a six-week study in his CPTED course and applied the principles Crowe has used in public housing projects, schools, universities, residences and commercial establishments to a military base concerned with anti-terrorism and force protection measures," says Mather.

In April of 1997, five professors and 25 graduate students were flown down to Key West by the U.S. Navy. Their mission was to find an aesthetic, environmentally sound way of protecting a government facility considered increasingly critical in the war on drugs.

Sixteen designs were presented which addressed vehicular and pedestrian circulation, secured parking areas, a redesign of the main entrance, and a trans-shipment building. The designs were instrumental in enabling JIATF East to secure the initial funding for the site improvements, says Mather. Since then, many of the key recommendations have been implemented.

"The idea of having a trans-shipment point to keep mail and deliveries away from the main compound came from one of the CPTED students," says Mather.

The result was a 3,000-square-foot building located 575 feet away from the main buildings, with a mezzanine for storage. It was built to withstand hurricane standard winds of 150-mph. The building has four internal and two external DeltaDome cameras, card reader access, and a loading dock.

"It allows us to have deliveries come directly to the area, yet gives us distance at the same time," says Mather.

"Some of the ideas recommended by the CPTED students have been implemented or included in final plans for the project. Some students recommended involving landscape areas to prevent off-road access to the compound. The use of palm trees, boulders and other flora was suggested. Planters are being incorporated as attractive barriers. Proper signage and truck turnarounds will keep trucks from entering the parking areas. Bollards will be used to separate the avenue exit from the parking lot, and fences and/or barricades will be used in a parking lot to prevent vehicle access and delineate the BRAC property from the base."

The students also did parking lot counts and made recommendations on where to expand parking. They also recommended places for pedestrian turnstile points for ease of access from the parking areas into the compound.

"Moreover," continues Mather, "we are implementing the students' recommendation to eliminate parking in front of the main building and landscape this area. The idea of a ceremonial or VIP drive for visitors has also been implemented."

Mather notes that the compound rarely lacks for visitors, particularly when the weather turns cold in Washington. "We get many two, three and four star generals, along with admirals, congressmen, and foreign dignitaries," he says.

But, while Key West might offer government visitors a beautiful retreat from the hectic pace of urban political life, no one questions the seriousness or importance of the work being done at the compound. "We're going against drug cartels which have tremendous amounts of money," notes Mather. "We want a level of security that will protect the people working here, as well as the sensitive information generated."

At the heart of the security program at JIATF East is the Ultrak SAFEnet access control system, programmed to delineate a complex array of security classifications. The system is comprised of a primary and redundant file server, pre-processors (PPUs), and remote terminal units, all connected by fiber optics. There is a network of some 145 indoor and outdoor Ultrak card readers.

"The Ultrak system is a complicated system which allows for access control for different confidentiality classifications for different areas, and at different times of the day," explains Campbell, the senior electrical engineer. "The Ultrak SAFEnet program supports Ultrak card readers, along with a Biometric Veriprint V2100 fingerprint verification system. There is a database capability to run a variety of reports, which we use extensively."

"The access control system is also used for intrusion detection," continues Campbell, "with motion detectors, door contacts and alarms integrated into the system."

An RS-232 interface integrates the CCTV system with the SAFEnet access control program through an American Dynamics Sensormatic 2052 Matrix switcher. When an alarm goes off, a video of the area appears on a monitor dedicated to video call-up, which has been placed above the newly installed APW Stantron 600 series console. The console contains ten 20-inch Sony color monitors.

Information comes into the Ultrak system from indoor and outdoor card readers located in the parking areas, at the pedestrian turnstiles, external and internal entrance doors, and the trans-shipment building.

Ultrak SAFEnet magnetic stripe cards are used by employees. The picture badges are printed on a Fargo Pro L printer and have colors and numbers designating the holder's security clearance.

Because it offers greater security, as well as greater protection against the electrical storms and hurricanes typical of the Florida Keys, fiber optics are used extensively to transmit both video and data both outdoors and indoors.

"We're in Florida, with a harsh weather environment, a lot of rain, high humidity, lots of lightening," explains Mather. "Fiber is less susceptible to damage."

A multi-mode outdoor/indoor fiber is used, buried in the ground in a conduit. A 12-fiber cable stretches between the parking areas and the central command center, carrying video, card reader, scanner, intercom and master override data. A six-fiber cable stretches between the command center and the outdoor turnstiles. The remote terminal units, which control the card readers, are all indoors and also connected by fiber optics to the Ultrak file server.

Fiber Options and Math Associates converters are used to translate video and data from coaxial to fiber optics and back.

CCTV is used extensively within and around the JIATF East compound. The system supports some 92 cameras, including Cohu 1300 series fixed color cameras, and 16 American Dynamics AD616LS Color DeltaDome Autofocus 128x zoom programmable surveillance cameras. The cameras are located in parking areas, the trans-shipment building, at the perimeter around the compound, and at an antenna field.

The CCTV system also includes six American Dynamics ADV1588/16 ChromaPlex Pro multiplexors and six American Dynamics ADR8045 Time Lapse VCRs.

Along with the DeltaDome cameras, external access is controlled by card readers. The card readers are located at the barricades or sliding gates at each of three parking area entrances, the VIP/ceremonial drive entrance, the Philips turnstiles, and at a seven-foot high chain link fence around the entire compound.

JIATF East employees have decals affixed to the rear windows of their cars and, upon entering the compound, go first over a magnetic presence loop imbedded some four to six inches into the asphalt. This twisted wire detects metal and triggers an Industrial Scan bar code scanner mounted on a pedestal. The scanner reads the employee's bar code, signaling to a Delta Scientific TT207SFM Flush Mount Rising Road Barricade to go down, allowing the car to enter the parking area.

If a car without a bar code decal attempts to enter, the driver has the option of swiping his employee magnetic badge through an Ultrak ACT IV card reader. An intercom by Stento USA offers a third option. With this option, a CCTV camera transmits a picture of the driver to the main guard station, where the driver's identity is verified. A guard then employs the master override to allow the driver access. A series of intercom sites exist throughout the compound.

Two integrators worked with JIATF East on the security upgrade. Risk Management Associates (RMA), Raleigh, N.C., helped to install and integrate the external barriers, bar code and card reader system. Secure USA, Cumming, Ga., installed the Delta Scientific barriers. Interface Security Systems, LLC of St. Charles, Mo., integrated a new voice and fire evacuation system by EST. "The system will provide a `big voice' to alert everyone in case evacuation is necessary," says Mather. "It includes a smoke detector and strobe light, but has a speaker rather than a horn."

The evacuation system is being installed in one building and will replace the existing fire system in the remaining three buildings in the compound as they undergo renovation. The system will be integrated with the Ultrak SAFEnet system so that when an alarm goes off, guards will be able to pinpoint the exact floor and room affected.

Mather works with a staff of approximately 12 contract security officers, who cover the facility around the clock. The officers work at a two-position console which includes a printer, a keyboard for controlling the camera system, and security video monitors. There will soon be a master switch for controlling the Delta Scientific barricades at the console as well.

The price tag for protecting the periphery of the JIATF East compound has nearly doubled since funding was first secured in 1999, but the project has become one of the jewels of the U.S. Military's Force Protection commitment. The perimeter has been outfitted with Southwest Microwave fencing that is integrated with the Ultrak system. The trans-shipment building now houses an EG&G Astrophysics LineScan 210 E Scan baggage scanner. With these additional controls, the compound is close to achieving the maximum protection possible for its employees, equipment, information and operation.

"We are well on our way to achieving the level of security we need to protect our employees and visitors," says Mather.

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