Skip to content

How Dallas Does Security

WHILE DALLAS CITIZENS MAY CHERISH THEIR frontier heritage, there is no denying that the city is now an urban center. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is home to 6.3 million people, 25 Fortune 500 companies, five professional sports teams, and a world-class arts and entertainment district. Protecting all of this is a serious challenge for law enforcement and private industry. Security professionals who attend the ASIS International 56th Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Dallas later this month can see for themselves how the city and businesses address the risks they face. Meanwhile, the following four case studies illustrate how local groups have structured their security programs to meet specific needs.

Cowboy’s Stadium

THOSE DESIGNING COWBOYS STADIUM TOOK THE MOTTO “everything is bigger in Texas” to heart. At 3 million square feet, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, located in Arlington, Texas, is the largest domed stadium in the world, with a maximum capacity for 110,000 people, larger than any other National Football League (NFL) venue. In addition to its retractable roof, which is also the world’s largest, the stadium has the largest retractable end zone doors, measuring 120 by 180 feet.

The stadium boasts the largest high-definition video screen in the world as well—it is even certified by the Guinness World Records. The screen hangs 90 feet above the ground and spans the football field from one 20 yard line to the other. To put that in perspective, when basketball games are played at the stadium, the video screen is larger than the court.

With a price tag of $1.3 billion, the stadium is also one of the most expensive sports venues ever constructed. Naturally, with such impressive features and such a large price tag, protecting the stadium was top of mind. Consequently, security was a major factor in the design and construction of the facility.

Included in the design were a host of protection elements ranging from physical security barriers at the perimeter to surveillance cameras throughout.

There are 263 CCTV cameras, both analog and digital, and more than 600 access control points. The camera feeds are recorded and also monitored live from an on-site control room. (A second on-site control room is used solely to monitor traffic conditions around the stadium.) The primary control room is staffed by security officers as well as two officers from the Arlington Police Department who monitor texts and e-mails from fans.

This fan-based security initiative is used most often during football games and was suggested by the NFL. “We run a public service announcement during the game,” says Jack Hill, stadium general manager. “We ask people to text or e-mail if they are sitting in a section with unruly fans.... [P]eople do use it on occasion.”

Up to 240 contract security officers and 160 police officers patrol the venue, including the five levels of private suites.

The stadium has a detention center with four cells. An Arlington police officer is on-site at the jail during large events. The detention facility was designed with input from the police and contains a gun locker and a room for SWAT gear.

The stadium held its first event, a George Strait concert, in May 2009. In its first year of operation, the venue hosted 11 NFL games, 4 college football games, 16 high school football games, and dozens of other sporting events, corporate meetings, and concerts such as U2 and the Jonas Brothers.

Approximately four people are jailed per event, mostly for alcohol-related offenses, according to Jim Hydrick, operations and security manager at the stadium. “The only exception to that trend was the Jonas Brothers concert,” he notes. “The jail was empty that night.”

While specific security procedures may be requested for a concert or corporate event, all the stops are pulled out on NFL game day. Security uses NFL best practices and the features built into the building to ensure the safest environment possible.

Team buses are swept by police and searched using explosives detection dogs before they are driven up to the stadium through a gated entrance. Most fans park outside the blast resistant bollards and stone wall that sit 100 feet from the stadium. Then, they walk through screening points to enter the venue.

To control access to the inside of the stadium, there is a single entry point that delivery personnel and VIPs use. The entry point is protected by police officers and six explosives detection dogs who sweep every vehicle that comes into the stadium.

After clearing the check point, vehicles proceed down a tunnel into the building. Anyone delivering goods then goes to the various loading docks. VIPs—those who purchase access to one of 31 private suites—park in assigned spaces.

“The tunnel from that entrance, down into the stadium is the most vulnerable spot,” says Hydrick. A further layer of protection is added by a hydraulic barricade in the tunnel that can be raised and lowered by the police officers to stop suspect vehicles.

Police can also seal the tunnel from the outside by lowering louvers over the entrance. Once the game is underway, no delivery vehicles are allowed; police keep the barricade raised, lowering it only to allow cleared VIPs to enter.

These rules apply to everyone. “Even [team owner] Jerry Jones has his car swept by bomb dogs,” Hydrick says.

Because such high-profile officials attend games, Hill must work closely with law enforcement, NFL security representatives, the U.S. Secret Service, and the FBI. “When [former] President George W. Bush attends games, the FBI is always in attendance as well,” says Hill.

One approaching event weighs heavily on the minds of stadium personnel despite their experience securing the venue for the many NFL games that have already been held there. Cowboys Stadium will host Super Bowl XLV in February 2011. The security preparations began more than a year ago and will continue up to the event’s kick-off.

In preparation, Hill, along with key security personnel, meet with NFL representatives on a monthly basis. “The NFL has a full security plan,” notes Hill. “It’s just a matter of taking that plan and adapting it to our facility.”

For example, though the stadium conducts preemployment background screening on employees, the NFL will conduct a second check. In addition, some security features will be tightened, and some will be altered. There will be no parking within 300 feet of the building, meaning that the parking lots at the stadium will be closed. Fans will be shuttled in from distant parking areas, and VIPs will be flown in by helicopter.

Despite the challenges, Hill is confident that the stadium can meet all of the NFL’s requirements. “These are just certain initiatives that are specific to securing the Super Bowl,” he says. “Nothing that we’re hearing is unreasonable. We’ll be ready.”

Downtown Dallas

IN 2007, THE U.S. GOVERNMENT brought charges against The Holy Land Foundation for providing aid to Islamic terrorist organizations. On July 23, 2007, the group went on trial at the Earle Cabell Federal Building in Dallas. Because of the high-profile nature of the case and the public concern that terrorists might use it to rally anti-American sentiment, the trial served as a real-life test of the protocols and systems that had been put in place by Dallas businesses and law enforcement to improve security and safety in the city post 9-11. Following is an overview of those public and private resources.

Law enforcement. The newest weapons in law enforcement’s arsenal are the citywide CCTV system and the Dallas Fusion Center.

Camera system. Live since 2008, the system operates through a public-private partnership. Businesses in the city purchase and maintain the cameras, of which there are currently 112, while the police department monitors the camera feeds and responds to any incidents.

Of the cameras, 87 are located in downtown Dallas; 14 are placed in the Jubilee area, which has suffered from high crime in the past; and 11 are located uptown. Cameras survey the area according to a programmed schedule, but they can only pan down and move side to side so as to protect the privacy of businesses and residents. “All we concentrate on is what is in the public view,” says Lieutenant Tony Crawford, who serves as watch commander and oversees the camera system.

The main monitoring center is located in the Dallas City Hall along with the police 911 dispatch center. Another monitoring station is placed in the Dallas Fusion Center (more on this later). Approximately 35 police officers work in shifts of four to watch the cameras around the clock.

Camera feeds are also continuously recorded at 25 frames per second and stored for up to 14 days. According to Crawford, the high frame rate helps police capture details such as license plate numbers. The camera system also makes use of analytics. During the Holy Land trial, that information helped them watch for anyone suspicious approaching the building. The cameras did pick up someone videotaping the exterior of the building at 2 a.m. The police were dispatched and the issue turned over to the FBI.

In addition, on the second day of the trial, in an unfortunate accident, several acetylene tanks at a downtown business exploded, sending fiery plumes into the air and spewing debris across several blocks in the middle of morning rush hour. The cameras helped law enforcement assess and monitor the situation. “People were concerned we were under attack,” says Deputy Chief Vincent Golbeck of the Dallas Police Department, who served as incident commander. “But we were able to calm people down quickly, tell them it was just an accident, and keep them updated on road closures and other breaking news.”

Unrelated to the trial, the cameras have been successful in reducing crime. From January 2007, before the cameras were activated, through April 2010, crime dropped 30 percent in downtown Dallas and 12 percent in the Jubilee district. Since the cameras went live, there have been 14,162 camera-related calls and 3,611 arrests based on those calls.

When setting up the system, the city and businesses were careful to address public perception. The cameras have always been overt and are accompanied by signs letting people know that public areas are being recorded.

However, privacy has been less of an issue than demand for the service. If businesses are located in one of 26 areas designated by police as high-crime, those businesses can install public CCTV cameras, and the police will monitor them. But businesses outside of these areas must use private monitoring services. “We just can’t monitor cameras for everyone,” says Crawford. “[W]e can’t afford it.”

Another unexpected expense was maintenance. The maintenance was done piecemeal at first, leaving the police to deal with a patchwork of contracts.

“It seems obvious, but we learned that having a maintenance contract is very important, especially for a government agency,” says Crawford. “Now we have one contract with the public works department so that if one of our camera lenses gets covered in West Texas dirt, we have someone who can come out and fix it quickly.”

Dallas Fusion Center. The Dallas Police Department’s Fusion Center was founded in 2007 and operated during business hours with three officers until last year when it received $3 million in federal grants under the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative. Now, with 35 officers assigned to the center, it operates around the clock analyzing news, local camera feeds, and national security information.

Officers monitor more than 25 databases from computer screens located around the center. The video from the city’s camera system feeds into the center, and officers there can control the pan-tilt-zoom features of the cameras if necessary. Also, all 911 calls are fed into the center and recorded. Television screens carry CNN and other 24-hour news stations.

One wall in the fusion center is covered by a video screen. Police can project video feeds, screen captures from databases, and other information onto the space. The room is also equipped with a smart board, which allows police at any workstation in the center to project images onto the board.

The officers follow open source social media, such as Twitter, to gather additional intelligence. For example, during the recent NBA All-Star Game in February, by following Twitter feeds, fusion center officers learned that LeBron James was headed to the Galleria, a local high-end mall, and that Twitter activity was encouraging local citizens to converge there. However, because officers were monitoring the network, they were aware of the situation and were able to reallocate resources. As a result, before the flash mob arrived, 18 police cars were on hand to ensure that as fans assembled, they remained well-behaved.

The fusion center works with federal partners, including the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. However, the emphasis is on crime prevention, and the focus is on local issues. “We are certainly interested in national security,” says Lieutenant Todd Thomasson, who founded and oversees the fusion center. “But we focus on crime. There were 166 murders in Dallas in 2009.... Not one of those people was killed by terrorists.”

The center’s successes are numerous and have been dependent on getting information to police officers in the field. For example, in one recent case, a young girl was shot and killed. Police obtained the suspect’s license plate number from witnesses and provided it to the fusion center. This information led them to discover that the suspect was a Mexican national. Fusion center employees then sent a photo of the man to all local bus services to alert them to be on the lookout for him in case he attempted to flee the area.

One bus company confirmed that the man had booked passage to Laredo, Texas. Police were able to coordinate with other police jurisdictions and when the bus stopped for gas in Austin, Texas, officers arrested the suspect without incident. “We are now able to do in 10 minutes what used to take two weeks,” says Thomasson.

These capabilities are part of the reason why the murder rate in Dallas is at a 50-year low.

Private sector. Private organizations in the downtown Dallas area work in partnership with law enforcement to protect the interests of businesses and citizens. Downtown Dallas, Inc., a nonprofit group, represents businesses in the central business district of Dallas—an area that measures a little more than a square mile in the center of the city. In addition to purchasing, installing, and maintaining 87 CCTV cameras as discussed earlier, the group also operates the Downtown Safety Patrol (DSP) and the Downtown Emergency Response Team (DERT).

DSP. Downtown Dallas launched the DSP in 2004 as a way to create a more visible security presence in the area. As part of the program, approximately 50 officers patrol the central business district on foot and on bicycle. The officers undergo a three-week training course with the Dallas Police Department, city transit authorities, representatives from the convention and visitors bureau, crisis intervention experts, and federal officials.

The DSP officers are trained to give first aid and CPR and to deter panhandling and other nuisance crimes. They also work with the homeless to get them in touch with social services and assist tourists when they need directions. They call police in cases where they discover serious infractions.

DERT. Established in 2001, DERT is a public-private partnership that facilitates information sharing between the police and downtown businesses. Through DERT, Downtown Dallas maintains various resources including an emergency response manual, a Web site, an AM radio station, a telephone hotline, an emergency messaging service, and an emergency contact database.

DERT also provides critical personnel—property managers, security directors, and engineers—with credentials that they can show police in case of an emergency in order to gain access to their facilities. The credentials include a photo, job title, and the name of the property.

The DERT system played a key role in keeping businesses in the know in September 2009 when federal agents were working undercover in the area to catch a would-be terrorist. The agents provided the suspect with supposed bomb-making materials that were actually inert. The suspect planted the fake bomb in Fountain Place, a downtown Dallas skyscraper, and the episode resulted in a successful arrest. But when the arrest made the news, it could have been a problem because business owners did not know that federal law enforcement had been on the trail of the would-be bomber from the start.

“We used the DERT system not only to notify stakeholders in the business community that this was an isolated attempt, but we also built on our existing relationships to keep information flowing,” says Golbeck. “The day after the arrest, the FBI met with Fountain Place tenants, property managers, and floor wardens from all the businesses in that 60-story building to give them information.”

The FBI was forthcoming, according to Golbeck, telling nervous property owners that they had been following the suspect for months, that they never had the capability to set off a bomb, that all the ingredients were inert, and that federal agents knew when and where the suspect was planning to plant the would-be explosive. “We thought we would have panic in downtown Dallas the next day, but we didn’t,” says Golbeck. “People knew who to contact. They had information, and they felt secure.”

Fort Worth

BACK IN THE DAY—IN THE LATE 1800S, that is—respectable folks would not enter certain parts of Fort Worth, Texas. Those were its boom days when the rowdy part of the city was known as Hell’s Half Acre, because it was home to the largest number of bars, dance halls, and brothels south of Dodge City, Kansas.

Located along the Chisholm Trail, Fort Worth attracted cattlemen, gamblers, cowboys, and the ladies who entertained them. Mixing such colorful characters with free-flowing alcohol resulted in copious amounts of crime—shootings, muggings, and brawls occurred daily.

Though the past is still present in modern Fort Worth, it takes a far gentler form. The area is now known as Sundance Square, named for the Sundance Kid, who, along with his partner Butch Cassidy, frequented the area in its heyday. Most of the 28 buildings in the 38-block district date from the turn of the 20th century and the streets are still paved with red brick.

While the ambiance remains, the high crime rates are history. Sundance Square is now protected by a privately owned security force, Center City Security (CCS), which partners with police, nonprofit organizations, and corporate security to keep the city safe.

CCS is owned by Bass Companies, a local firm that owns real estate in the area. Bass launched CCS in 1981 as it was trying to develop Sundance Square. “The area had some unsavory elements,” remembers John Joyce, deputy director of security for CCS. Bass Companies “committed to get it clean and make it safe in the hopes that more businesses would move into the area,” he says. It worked.

From a control center in their offices, located in the heart of Sundance Square, CCS officers monitor more than 300 digital and analog CCTV cameras as well as hundreds of alarms. To ensure that the approximately 45 armed officers are in top physical form, the CCS offices also contain a firing range, weightlifting equipment, and other exercise equipment such as treadmills. Fitness is critical, according to Joyce. While some officers walk, ride Segways, or even ride horses on patrol, most ride bicycles.

The offices also serve as a training center. Some of the training is routine for security personnel, such as handcuff training and de-escalation techniques. However, the CCS also has a fully equipped dojo, where officers learn jujitsu.

“We have been teaching this type of martial art since the CCS was founded,” says Joyce. “It works very well because anyone can use it, it’s nonaggressive, and it is not designed to cause pain.”

The officers also undergo specific scenario training, which helps them deal with the different people who populate the retail, residential, and corporate surroundings of Sundance Square. This training is critical, says Joyce, because different types of people visit the area depending on the time of day.

“We have an area that is an office environment all day and then transitions into a family-oriented environment in the evening with adults and children going to the movies and out to dinner,” says Joyce. “Then at 10 p.m., the visitors turn into another group—younger people, going to outdoor concerts and bars.”

These changes require different responses from officers. For example, officers are trained to summon assistance for an executive who has car trouble, calm a parent who has lost a child, provide first aid to an injured tourist, or call a cab for a bar patron.

The 21 bars in the area provide ample opportunity for the officers to use their training and to foster the positive relationship they have built with the Fort Worth Police Department. In many incidents, such as those involving intoxicated customers, bar owners call both police and CCS officers. CCS also has a police radio in its dispatch office so that officers can be in contact with law enforcement if necessary.

Though the relationship was rocky at first, the partnership works smoothly now, to the benefit of all parties. “Once the police realized that we weren’t trying to take police jobs away or trying to be police, they found it was a win-win situation,” says Joyce.

To establish the relationship, CCS worked to make connections at every level. CCS and its officers also stay involved in law enforcement associations. For example, Joyce serves on the board of directors for the Forth Worth Bike Patrol Support Group, which provides training and equipment to bike officers on the police force.

CCS also supports the work of the Safe City Commission, a nonprofit organization that works with the Fort Worth Police to fight crime through various initiatives such as gang violence intervention and education. The group is currently developing a family advocacy center, which will conduct outreach on a variety of topics from cyberbullying to dating violence.

CCS strives to assist law enforcements by dealing with certain issues that police don’t have time for. “The police can be overwhelmed, especially now that cities are facing budget cuts, and they must watch how their resources are being used,” says Joyce. “We can do some things so they don’t have to. Police can stay on patrol while we deal with other things.”

Some of those other things involve aiding corporate security. CCS works in conjunction with proprietary security forces in the district. For example, CCS often works alongside XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, which has a small security force that patrols the company’s 10 buildings in Fort Worth. CCS will also help corporations with internal security issues, such as potentially contentious terminations. CCS officers will stay in the background during the termination but remain available in case of violence.

The various groups, ranging from police to nonprofit foundations, support each other through numerous training initiatives. CCS recently held a street survival training course and invited local police officers to attend.

The police reciprocate. When the Fort Worth Police held a training session on crowd control in anticipation of next year’s Super Bowl, they made sure to include CCS officers. “We’re all in this together,” says Joyce. “We need to train together and prepare together.”

Frito Lay

FRITO LAY NORTH AMERICA, which is a subsidiary of Pepsico, oversees a massive food production operation that brings in $12 billion in annual sales. The company’s 30 manufacturing plants and 1,500 storage facilities generate 3.2 billion pounds of processed consumer foods each year. More than 21,000 employees and 40 contract manufacturing partners ensure that 16 billion bags of Frito Lay products—everything from Cracker Jack to Sun Chips—hit the shelves yearly.

Frito Lay executives have known for some time that the company’s supply chain was complex, but until 9-11 they did not consider that it might also be dangerous. “The terrorist attack raised new possibilities. The defense of our supply chain became very important, because we had to consider that food could be used as a weapon” says Peter Hayes, senior group manager of the company’s manufacturing operations support and food security division. Hayes and his team embarked on a food defense program that would protect the company’s supply chain, including warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and employees. The program includes an ongoing analysis of the company’s physical security, regular audits, and tabletop exercises for executives.

Physical security. Hayes began the process by visiting company facilities and conducting a survey of existing security measures. Then he used threat exposure analysis to determine the risk level of each facility.

After conducting the survey, Hayes found that more than half of the manufacturing plants had no perimeter fencing; only half had an operable CCTV system. Most facilities that assembled and packed finished products had perimeter fencing, but only half had alarms and only one-third had access control.

While the lack of consistency was troubling at first, the company was anxious to avoid a cookie-cutter approach. “We wanted to give each facility the tools they needed to maintain adequate security,” says Hayes.

The company considered four main security measures for each facility: CCTV, access control, perimeter fencing, and guard services. To determine which measures were needed at a given location, Hayes applied a numerical ranking for each facility. This ranking was based on the severity of a threat, multiplied by the likelihood of such an event occurring, multiplied by how easily the threat could be detected.

For example, Hayes explains, the team considered how to rate the threat of arson at each facility. Such an event was ranked on the severity scale based on how quickly a fire would spread, which depended on what product was manufactured or processed at the facility, and how much damage would be done. The other numbers were determined by how easy it would be for someone to start such a fire and how quickly a fire would be detected.

To fine-tune these numbers, Hayes and his team consulted front-line employees and held brainstorming sessions. “Employee input was terrific and very helpful,” says Hayes.

Once a facility was given a numerical ranking for each risk, Hayes factored in the size of the facility, the volume of food it produced, and its CAP Index score—indicating the level of crime in the vicinity. These numbers were then applied to determine the specific security measures that should be implemented to mitigate the threats.

At a minimum, each facility was fitted with perimeter fencing and an access control system, which was monitored and controlled on site. Most locations also received (if they didn’t already have) a CCTV system. The cameras are not monitored, but the feeds are recorded and kept for 30 days. Only locations with the highest risk score were given security guards.

The security system was in place by 2004. Earlier this year, Hayes contracted with an outside consulting firm to reassess the security measures to make sure they were still appropriate. “We wanted to make sure that we weren’t being ruled by our emotions after 9-11,” he says.

Overall, Hayes says, the security features were still judged necessary. “What we put in place is largely correct and still relevant to the risks we have today,” he concludes.

However, technology has made some things possible that were once out of reach. For example, standalone CCTV and access control were necessary for the original installation, because centralization was too expensive. The new assessment indicates that a central, common access control card for all facilities is economically viable. CCTV could also be monitored from a central station. “One of the recommendations is that we could consider a centralized system,” says Hayes. “We will be looking at that now.”

Audits. From the design phase, Hayes knew that a comprehensive, annual audit of the entire security program would be necessary. He wanted an independent third party to conduct the audit but found that none of the applicants for the job met his requirements. “Everyone who bid for the job could analyze risk, but none of them knew anything about the food manufacturing industry,” he says.

Hayes went looking for an auditor. He found the American Institute of Baking. “They knew a great deal about food manufacturing and already conducted food safety audits, so we only had to educate them about security.”

The annual audits cover the security of the physical sites, food processing, and raw materials. Procedures related to personnel, including background screening are reviewed. The entire security organization is also examined.

Tabletop exercises. To keep senior executives involved and to help them practice their roles in a disaster, security hosts tabletop exercises every few years. The next one is slated for mid 2011.

During these exercises, 20 of the company’s key executives meet to respond to a fictitious emergency. The most recent exercise involved one of the company’s manufacturing plants. Security devised the scenario of an explosion at the plant. The situation was presented in a series of television news clips in which the information was doled out to executives.

The first video showed a fire and reported that five people were missing and presumed dead. The facilitator then stopped the video and asked the executives what they would do next. After the group exhausted its options, the next video was shown giving more detail.

Over the course of four video clips, different issues arose—a disgruntled employee, a possible terrorist. After the last clip, the facilitator revealed what “really” happened. It was an explosion caused by an accident. Based on this final bit of data, executives discussed how they made their decisions and whether they would change any of them.

Over the years, the group has learned that often it’s the simple things that get overlooked, says Hayes. “Someone who should be on the contact list has been left off or a phone number is missing.”

Executives also practice the facility’s fire emergency procedures. The facility has conducted regular fire drills and trained with first responders. Most recently, they tested some aspects of the policy that calls for employees to report to nearby parking areas and reassemble for a head count in the event of a fire alarm.

The facility had elaborate signage directing people based on shift and work area. However, the practice exercise revealed that the facility had not considered what to do if the entire site was engulfed in flames and employees could not meet in the parking areas. Based on this exercise, executives made sure that facilities designated off-site locations where employees could assemble in an emergency.

Getting corporate support for the security program was not difficult. “We didn’t have to emphasize how important our reputation is,” says Hayes. “Executives know that people do not need our product. They choose us based on our brand.”

Teresa Anderson is senior editor at Security Management.