Mr. Peter Murray, head of physical plant and center security, addressed a special house meeting this afternoon about security measures going into effect October 25, 2010.
Br. Wayne Fitzpatrick explained the desire to strike a balance between protecting our private residence and maintaining the public areas of our chapels, classroom, lecture halls, exhibits and gift shop. He said the Sparkhill Dominicans have a much more strict security than the one we are implementing. PaulIsts in Washington, D.C., have a link to the local police should an intruder break the security circuit at night.
A DVD of Pete and Father Richard Callahan explained the new procedures. The main entrance is always available without a swipe card. These swipe cards will replace the old X-key. A lost card can be decommissioned without inconveniencing others.
There are nine doors the swipe card will open. No other doors will open from the outside. All doors can be used as an exit. The X-key will no longer work after Oct. 25, 2010.
Pete and Mr.Al Vitiello answered questions about accessing the gym, why some doors work with the card but others don't, and the new electronic beam that automatically unlocks the door for egress. "Tailgating" (when two or more people enter with one swipe) should be avoided. No one should confront a stranger who enters this way, but the person should be reported to security.
Mr. Mike Reddy, from health services, stressed that the safety of the residents is paramount. Not to be alarmist, but he recounted how a neighbor was murdered during a "home invasion."
Outside groups still use our building on a regular basis, notably 12-Step programs.
Although we have a sign-in book at the reception desk, many people enter without signing in and there is no way to check if they signed their real name.
The security men emphasized that this is only phase one. The upper, residential floors will be secured like the F-Wing is now.
Finally, Br. Tom Hickey from assisted living, will try to make sure all residents have a swipe card.
No word yet if metal detectors and strip-searches will be required in the future.