Overreaction to Minor Threats = More Vulnerability to Major Threats – 2 World Financial Center Evacuation

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May 13, 2012 · 0 comments

in General Security, Personal Security, Public Security, Security 101, Security News

Thumbnail image for Overreaction to Minor Threats = More Vulnerability to Major Threats – 2 World Financial Center Evacuation

So. Still trying to wrap your head around that headline? It’s not as baffling as it seems, really. What I’m trying to convey is that if one takes drastic measures against minor, or even only perceived but non existent threats, that might leave your flanks open to those who really want to hurt you. Example? Sure.

When a security guard spots a “suspicious package” in your mail room, and reports this, please don’t make the same mistake Brookfield Properties did the other day. A package came in to the building’s mailroom containing a toy grenade (I’m sure you’ve seen them) with a queue number attached and labeled “complaints department. Just in case there are some of you out there who haven’t seen those, just look to the left, and there’s a little picture right in this article. Wow.

Anyway.

These kinds of things happen. It’s a gag, a joke, a toy, harmless and inert in every way. Simply put, it’s made to make you laugh, not go BOOM (as the TSA likes to put it). So what went wrong?

Brookfield Properties decided that it would be an excellent idea to evacuate the whole building, after calling the bomb

Building: 44 Floors of Not Falling Down.

squad. Or before. Apparently, one man wearing a bright yellow backpack lead the employees outside and onto a volleyball court, because, as he said – these things happen, and you’ve got to be prepared. So, according to this man, Octavio Diaz, having a bright yellow backpack is just about all you need in case of an emergency. We respectfully disagree. Anyway, the building in question is 2 World Financial Center, located at 225 Liberty Street, Manhattan, New York, New York, USA. Jeez. It’s a 44 story building, and all of it was evacuated due to a “suspicious package”.

How it Made Them Vulnerable:

Well, it’s simple really. If it’s this easy to get a 44 floor building evacuated, a building housing several major financial institutions, imagine what could have happened if someone decided to make use of the 90 minutes that the floors were empty to do who knows what in the various offices.

According to the tenants, the building was empty for that approximate space of time, while the bomb squad was busy trying to secure the 1940’s style fake toy, joke gag grenade in the mailroom. My mind wobbles at the potential threat to the security of financial information, personal information and assets that are controlled from that building alone. From personal experience, I would say that any bomb threat or suspicious package shouldn’t be taken lightly, but that doesn’t mean we should freak out at every little thing that turns up in a mailroom. Even if this had been a real grenade, what could the damage have been? A destroyed mail room. That’s it. If security followed standard precautions, this grenade was left inside a lead lined x-ray machine made of steel, and would pose little to no threat to even the mailroom itself. That’s how insanely exaggerated this evacuation was.

If it had been a planned spoof to get the building evacuated, then Brookfield Properties just fell for it, exposing several major financial companies to 90 minutes of exposure to anyone with big enough balls to either a) go in there after everyone was out or b) just make sure to be there when the evacuation happened, and just not leave with the rest of the sheep.

What is an Appropriate Reaction? 

Crowd from evacuated 2 WFC. Not pictured: appropriate response. Via Twitter user @cgeeezy

An appropriate reaction to a grenade in a package in a mailroom in an x-ray machine would be to evacuate the mailroom and adjacent offices. At the outside, that floor. Call the bomb squad, and await further instructions from them. That’s all.

If the grenade actually goes off, have the fire department check for fires as a result of the (minor) explosion, and re-evaluate the need for further evacuation as the fire department reports back. Never, ever expose a 44 floor building to that kind of vulnerability.

News Coverage:

NYTimes CityRoom:

But the grenade turned out to be a piece of harmless office humor. It was mounted on a plaque with the words, “Complaint Department – please take a number,” with the number attached to the pin on the grenade. (Somethinglike this.)

Huff Post:

A World Financial Center building was evacuated while the NYPD investigated a suspicious package Thursday morning.

The package was delivered to 2 World Financial Center in lower Manhattan, home to Nomura Securities.

“People were a little nervous getting outside,” an employee at Nomura told The Wall Street Journal. “But once we left the building everything was fine. Everyone’s pretty calm right now.”

And it goes on and on. The lesson? If you have offices in a Brookfield Properties building, you might want to consider relocating to a property owner who won’t invite criminals in for 90 minutes of playtime every time an apparently not-too-well-trained x-ray screener finds “munitions” in office mail.

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