After New York Blast, Multinational Firms Boost Security
TENANTS are starting to move back into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. But, as might be expected considering last month's terrorist bombing in the underground garage for the building, security measures have been sharply strengthened.
Throughout the Big Apple, heightened security is evident at both public and private facilities, such as financial institutions, government buildings, airports, train stations, and bus depots. At the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's huge bus depot on Manhattan's West Side, officials only this week reopened public parking. It was closed following the Trade Center blast.
Nor is New York alone in its concern with security.
Many large multinational corporations are tightening security, although those contacted for this article did not wish to be identified. In addition to the blast this is happening because of rising threats against Americans in many parts of the world, says Michael Harvey, a professor of international business policy at the University of Oklahoma College of Business Administration. Professor Harvey has studied the impact of terrorism on US corporations for over a decade.
Harvey reckons that in the 1980s between 3,600 and 5,000 American citizens were killed abroad in terrorist acts, many of them directed against United States companies. Harvey estimates that US companies spend at least $20 billion annually on security systems and practices - an amount that he concedes is guesswork at best, since many large companies refuse to publicly identify their security programs. Some multinational companies will eventually have security teams that equal "small armies," he says. At many firms, little change
Unlike some large multinational companies, most US companies have not substantially increased security programs despite the Trade Center bombing, says John Horn, managing director of Kroll Associates, a corporate security agency.
That's not necessarily inappropriate, says Mr. Horn, since within the domestic US, most security measures are meant to deal with actions taken by disgruntled employees, or to the theft of corporate "information," than to the threat of bomb-throwers from abroad. Security policies reviewed
But while most businesses are not installing expensive electronic or other technical systems, many companies are quietly reviewing current security "policies, practices, and procedures," he says.
Horn believes that violent acts by disgruntled employees - such as have occurred against the US Postal System - could increase in the years ahead, given the massive "downsizing and restructuring taking place" in both the public and private sectors.
Currently, corporate security systems range from a guard at door to very elaborate hidden-camera surveillance of people coming and going within buildings.
At the World Trade Center, many of the 65 tenants occupying Tower Two, including Dean Witter & Co. and Fuji Bank, have moved back into their suites. Tower One is expected to be opened for tenants on Monday.
Changes are evident: Identification cards are now required for employees seeking access to their offices; security guards hover around entrances; the number of security officials at the complex has been doubled, according to officials of the Port Authority, which manages the huge complex where over 50,000 people normally work.
A study by Hallcrest Systems Inc., a management consulting firm in McLean, Va., found that spending on security systems in the US now runs around $65 billion annually; that amount could climb to over $100 billion by the end of the decade, Hallcrest estimates. Currently, security firms employ over 1.6 million people, with employment expected to increase by over 2 percent a year throughout the 1990s.
Whereas top security officials for corporations used to come from police departments, or other local enforcement agencies, they are now coming from the retired ranks of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, says Harvey.