CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Democratic National Convention organizers are looking for a company to make the high-security badges called “credentials”, to get into the upcoming convention. They also need “tickets” for the event, as well, say some experts…These can’t be easy to forge, copy or fake, for obvious reasons.
DNC organizers hope to insure adequate security for people like the President of teh United States and other VIPS who show up for the convention here.
This, of course won’t be easy, for a number of different reasons. It also has some wondering if DNC officials can even handle it?
Literally thousands of people will be accessing the event to be held at the Time Warner Cable Arena each and every day, besides all the high profile politicians, delegates, staffers, vendors, volunteers, law enforcement, media, support and cleaning staff expected. All these people will need access to the event.
Each will need a special pass to even step foot inside the arena.
They all will have to be checked and re-checked.
“That should include background criminal checks called NCIC checks – that will only add to the expense involved here”, says Jason Vickers of Charlotte, N.C. , a private security consultant and former executive bodyguard for chief executives with major oil and gas company in the Middle East.
SECURITY HAS TO BE AIR TIGHT!
As you can imagine it’s a national security issue, whenever the President is involved, convention organizers realize that and are looking for only a select number of companies to even bid on the badge and credentialing work itself.
They’ll pick from only a select group of companies within that industry, that have proven track records and whom they think they can trust and only invite those companies to apply.
The bidding process will be essentially closed to the public, so even if you have a great idea or innovation you will not be considered. This is done as part of the security protocol surrounding the event itself.
Organizers wonder what new technology a company can offer — maybe something beyond the industry standard of “holograms, watermarks, ultraviolet ink and foils” they’ve used in the past, according to one article.
Organizers hope it’s something novel and new they haven’t seen before and something counterfeiters wouldn’t be expecting.
We checked around and did some research into this and decided to ask some real experts in the field of security, namely the Secret Service. Not just any Secret Service we asked a trusted “retired” Secret Service agent, with over 20 years of experience to lend his expertise and he produced a dated training document which actually made reference to some of the issues involved in “credentialing”:
The Secret Service notes the following in its training regarding the mission of major events credentialing:
“The mission of major events credentialing is to design and produce badge identification to ensure the greatest possible level of security for personnel and property, and to enhance the ability of law enforcement to control access to secure areas, facilities, and events.
Because proper credentialing can be very expensive, some special event
organizers cut corners on this task. For example they sometimes don’t conduct adequate proper background checks on personnel and/or don’t invest in badges that can’t be counterfeited.”
IMPORANT DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A TICKET AND CREDENTIALS
The Secret Service stresses the difference between a “credential” and a “ticket.”
A credential identifies specific individuals who are allowed access to a venue for a purpose.
A ticket on the other hand is issued to spectators or the general public. Security staff should not confuse the two. Neither should DNC organizers.
A ticket to enter an event is not a “credential”. This is very important, you cannot assume that someone with a ticket has been vetted for security purposes. “This is something we see time and time again at such high profile events” says Tom Smith (not his real last name) of Charlotte, N.C a security consultant for a private international security firm. “Credential (unlike a ticket) identifies specific individuals who are allowed access to a venue for a purpose. Expenses usually associated with credentialing (background checks, production costs for “high tech” badges) may result in cutting corners. Sophisticated badge-making equipment and software involves placing holographs on badges, making them difficult to counterfeit. More commonly, numerical and/or color codes are used to indicate perimeter access, personnel functions, permission to carry service weapons, etc.”, he said.
BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION IS PROBABLY THE WAY TO GO!
“In the future, event badges may include biometric identification and bar codes. Problem is it is expensive to do that. Badges now are typically color-coded to show perimeter access. This is where DNC and security officials should be looking at”, says Hugh Long of Charlotte, N.C. a private security consultant and advisor for various private interests. “For example, a purple badge may allow access to the middle perimeter and red allows access to the inner perimeter…”
Long says the event will probably be “protected by a series of security rings.” One at the outside, when people first enter, and a middle security ring, where people may be subjected to increased scrutiny and the inner perimeter security where security is at its highest and everything is checked and re-checked again and access to certain areas are restricted.
“All security personnel should receive briefing packets that show the badge colors and explain the access codes”, Long says.
PHOTO ID REQUIRED ALSO
“For most major special events, photo identification is also part of the badge or credentials people must have…”, says Dan Cooper of Charlotte, N.C., a retired security guard who used to be licensed in the state of Florida. “This will be one additional security measure event organizers should have in place”, he said.
One new article quotes a top level DNC official discussing the importance of the credentials: “This (credential) is their access point,” DNC Committee CEO Steve Kerrigan said. “This is their tool to get access to the building. It is critical for us that we make sure that the folks that we intend to have access get access.”
Once organizers pick a company, they won’t reveal the name until after the event, for security reasons.
They want to make sure no one suspicious tries to infiltrate or work for the company ahead of time or targets the business in another way.
We tried repeatedly to contact the DNC organizers to ask about security and see if they will even consider such things as “biometrics”, but as of the time of this report, our emails were unresponded to or ignored?
WHAT ABOUT BACKGROUND CHECKS?
Organizers will also make sure their contract with the business spells out security measures the company must take, including NCIC background checks.
People allowed in the arena should also be required to pick up new credentials every day of the event. This is something we are unsure will happen at the DNC convention. “It prevents a lot of problems later on with lost and missing ID’s floating around”, says Dan Burns of Charlotte, N.C., a former security guard for many years.
As an additional measure of security DNC officials won’t even allow people to get their ID and tickets at the arena.
They’ll have to pick them up at some other location away from the event itself, which is a good idea – this is also an additional security measure they will have in place before the event…
DIFFERENT LEVELS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
“In terms of security it will be a nightmare for DNC organizers, because of all the different levels of law enforcement involved here, not the least of which is the FBI and Secret Service. The Secret Service will also have to go through every aspect of security even before the President arrives at the DNC convention next year”, says Ronnie Younger of Charlotte, who advises a select group of members of the Occupy Charlotte protest group.
Some Occupy Charlotte protesters would like to protest at the event peacefully, but there is division on how to do that. By design no one person speaks or makes decision for the Occupy movement as a whole. “It will be mess, with individuals out there doing their own thing. You also have other Occupy groups coming in to protest the DNC convention from around the nation, such as Occupy Wall Street, Occupy New York, Occupy Phoenix…so you have these guys running around the event as well…” says Capt Crunch, an activist for Occupy Charlotte group, who nobody even knows his real name.
In addition, you will have private security guards from different Security companies being hired by local business organizations to insure the security needs of their individual clients during the convention, especially at hotels and other places.