A Necessary Evil: Planning for the Worst

A police dispatcher working at console

Millennium Communications Group, Inc. assisted Essex County at the Veterans Courthouse in Newark, NJ with a security drill to evaluate how staff would react to a life threatening situation. Millennium was contacted by Lt. Edward Esposito, Field Operations Division / Office of Emergency Management of the sheriff’s department, to install fifteen HD IP cameras on the 11th floor for the drill. Millennium also created an observation room for local officials and Freeholders to view the drill as it took place, while also showing how cameras would operate in the courtrooms and the difference between the older analog and newer IP cameras. IP offers high quality video, remote accessibility, two-way audio, mobility within the network, and much more.

For the drill, Millennium used Axis IP hi-definition cameras which allowed the clearest picture and most reliable connection. All cameras were then connected to a Genetec Security platform used to record the event. For the centralized monitoring station four 60 inch HD monitors were used to display video of the four courtrooms and hallways on the 11th floor.  The existing analog cameras were also displayed on two additional monitors to show the comparison between the older analog and new IP system. The scenario was pre-determined, but not made known to staff; only that it was, in fact, a drill and that all communication during the drill must be followed by “this is a drill.” As the scenario played out, two active shooters were discovered, one male and one female; a scenario all too real for Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura and Judge Sallyanne Floria. The pair discussed with us briefly the fatal event that played out in 1993 when a gun was smuggled into one of the courtrooms and given to the defendant on trial.

Cutting back to the current gunmen drill, a hostage situation was created to challenge law enforcement. Miscommunication was introduced over the radios to try to confuse or divert people from the task at hand. Fire alarms were even set off to add another element to the drill. Law enforcement personnel stuck to their training and were able to take control of the situation by detaining both gunmen. The Essex County Sheriff, Armando Fontoura, was very pleased with how all law enforcement personnel handled the drill.

Camera’s allowed for an ID on the gunmen and the ability to see where they went while on the 11th floor. Surveillance tied into a monitoring station, similar to the one in the drill, would allow law enforcement personnel, along with the designated task force handling these situations, to have a central location to quickly defuse the situation or determine steps that must be taken to prevent further harm. The centralized viewing station also allowed officials to see how they could use their cameras to not only identify the suspects, but to also direct or warn law enforcement in the situation. The unfortunate side to all of this is we can no longer ask ourselves “what if this will happen”, but instead must ask “when will this happen.” Millennium Communications Group, Inc. was proud to take part in this exercise and would like to bring the expertise and knowledge we have in the security field to your community.

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