Security rates high at Standard & Poor's
Security rates high at Standard & Poor's

Aug 1, 2000 12:00 PM
Don Garbera

Standard & Poor's is the largest rating agency and financial publisher in the world. The company provides independent, analytical services and information to the world's financial markets.

Headquartered in the Wall Street section of New York City and owned by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Standard & Poor's employs a staff of approximately 2,200 in New York and maintains regional offices in major cities of the world.

At the company's one-million-square- foot facility at 55 Water Street, employees and visitors are protected by security personnel and a state-of-the-art security system. At the helm of the security operation is Gino Modesti, a former member of the New York Police Department.

During his 21-year tenure with the NYPD, Modesti was instrumental in obtaining evidence to arrest and indict a known member of an organized crime family on Staten Island, and participated in a shoot-out with a sniper on New York's Lower East Side - and eventually in apprehending him.

As the security manager, Modesti answers to the security director at the parent company. According to Bill Fernhead, director of security at The McGraw-Hill Companies, "Protection of assets and personnel is critical for the proper functioning of a company such as Standard & Poor's."

Modesti's area of coverage includes 15 floors of offices, parts of the building's main concourse, and a lobby information desk.

Card access is an important part of security capabilities. Some 116 access points are covered by a Sensormatic Software House C*Cure 800 system, which uses 3.1 software. These areas include administrative offices, computer rooms, the employee credit union, conference rooms, the executive floor and high-security locations such as the two technology centers that house confidential data. Only certain employees have access to the floor where these areas are. Proximity cards attached to color-coded ribbons are assigned to employees allowed into these locations. The colors of the various ribbons specify which technology center the individuals are authorized to enter.

"It's easier for a security guard, patrolling this floor, to spot someone not authorized to be within one of these areas - and challenge that individual," says Modesti.

Employees carry three cards. One - issued by the 55 Water Street building security department - allows authorized entry into the building after-hours or on weekends. The second is an identification card issued by Standard & Poor's with the employee's photo; the third is the proximity card. The Standard & Poor's access card and the building ID card are attached together for portability. ID cards are made on a C*Cure ID badging system which uses a Cheetah MG Memory ID printer from Fargo.

Employees entering Standard & Poor's must pass through Alvarado turnstiles which use proximity readers. Gates for the handicapped use a proximity reader and incorporate swipe card capabilities for visitors. When visitors enter the building, they must sign-in at the lobby area designated for Standard & Poor's and have their appointments verified. They are then issued a temporary one-day pass and a swipe card that allows access through the turnstiles.

Anyone entering the executive floor must pass through three access points that use not only proximity cards, but also CCTV cameras.

Elmo color chip cameras model TSN-410D, equipped with Tamron model C70303 8mm manual iris lenses, are used at all access points throughout the facility to monitor individuals accessing the various floors. Motion detectors are used, after hours, in all stairwells, and are tied into the buildings' security system.

The security control room sports American Dynamics model 8025 real-time recorders, American Dynamics 9-inch model 940 monitors and a 14-inch call-up monitor, along with a Robot MV96P multiplexer and American Dynamics multi-switcher and display quads.

The security operation includes 12 contract guards, along with four proprietary personnel and three backup guards.

In addition to New York state-mandated training, guards also receive on-site training in report writing, patrol procedures, handling the public, bomb threat procedures, medical emergencies, handling emergencies in computer rooms, major building emergencies, procedures if a strike should occur, and procedures for unusual occurrences.

Security personnel do not wear guard-type uniforms, but are outfitted with blue-gray slacks, striped tie and white shirt.

An important aspect of Modesti's job is maintaining high morale among security personnel. To help instill pride in their jobs, he gives them more than run-of-the-mill responsibilities and authority to complete their tasks.

The case of the missing computers Recently, Modesti received a report from one of the company's managers that some computers were missing from his area. Based on the information, Modesti and his staff came in over the weekend and set up a covert surveillance camera.

On reviewing the tapes Monday morning, Modesti discovered that an employee was entering the building after hours and removing the computers by placing them in duffel bags and walking them out of the building. When confronted by Modesti, the employee admitted the theft, and the computers were returned. The employee was terminated and criminal charges were brought against a former employee.

Systems Engineering, the subcontractor/installer for the U.S. Navy and GSA smart card initiative, has developed a Development/Integration Demonstration Center at 21525 Ridgetop Circle, Suite 120, Dulles, Va., about 20 miles outside of Washington D.C. Anyone who is interested can arrange an appointment to tour the facility, which showcases the various technologies Systems Engineering has developed for the Navy and GSA. To set up an appointment, contact Roy Hayes or Luther Williams at (703) 406-3282.

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