Saturday, December 1, 2018

'Tis the Season for Bollards and Barricades in Berlin and Beyond

The seasonally secure Breitscheidplatz Christmas market Berlin 
















It’s beginning to be a great big fortress
Sandbags everywhere
Take a look at the new steel fence, a tried and true defense
‘Gainst truck attacks within the public square

It’s beginning to be a great big fortress
Threats are evermore
But the scariest thing you see is the carnage that might be
On your own front door

It's Christmas time once more, and that means Berlin and 70-plus other cities and towns in Germany are setting up Christmas markets. Ever since the 2016 truck attack on crowds at the Berlin market, the seasonal decorations of those markets have included anti-ram vehicle barriers. Yes, steel baskets filled with sand bins are now as traditional as hot mulled wine.

Here's a German press report on how the hanging of the bollards is proceeding this year - Extra security measures in place for terror-hit Berlin Christmas market:
It's been almost two years since a lorry ploughed into a Christmas market in Berlin, claiming 12 lives, including the Polish driver of the truck, and injuring dozens of others.

Now, as the market at Breitscheidplatz, western Berlin, gets set to open on Monday November 26th, workers have been securing the area with huge steel baskets, reported local newspaper B.Z.

It’s just one of the new measures being put in place to make the area more safe.

Since Monday, workers have been building more than a hundred square lattice baskets on the sides of the square and screwing them together to form a row.

The baskets will form a protective ring made of steel, sand and concrete around the site that was hit by tragedy just days before Christmas 2016.

The steel baskets, called Terrablocks by experts, are part of a pilot project by the Berlin Senate, reported the Berliner Zeitung.

The Senate is investing €2.6 million in the new blocking elements, which will later become the property of the police.

In addition to the 160 wire baskets, which are connected together and when finished will stand along the side of the Christmas market, 13 heavy steel pedestals will be erected at another part of the square near Hardenbergstraße.

Meanwhile, 70 mobile bollards, so-called truck blocks, will be installed at the pedestrian entrances, leaving space for pedestrians - but none for vehicles.

The steel baskets are prefabricated and linked together 
Sand has the mass necessary to stop a truck


































Those perimeter security arrangements look a lot better thought-out and more professionally executed than the rather haphazard ones we saw last year. Also, note that the German Federal government is funding the barriers this time, and that they will become the property of local police after the market closes, obviously for reuse in future years. The German authorities have evidently accepted the permanence of the security threat to public gathering places.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

DOD Support to Federal Law Enforcement at the Southwest Border



DOD just provided a simple answer to the question of whether U.S. military troops will be conducting law enforcement activities on the Mexican border. They will not, but they will provide force protection for federal law enforcement personnel. For example, riot control.

Photo from NORAD and U.S. Northcom Facebook
















This is nothing new. We trained at riot control formations way back in my own Military Police days, when Reagan was President and there were still vivid memories of Army support to domestic law enforcement during the riots of the '60s and '70s.


Saturday, November 17, 2018

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of he Week



Hassan Whiteside buys $50K assault rifle, immediately has it stolen after leaving it in unlocked Rolls Royce - Yahoo Sports
The 29-year-old Whiteside reportedly purchased an M16 assault rifle with ammunition, a silencer and a rifle bag for the low, low price of $50,000 on July 6 this offseason ... Whiteside’s next move was to drive to the University of Miami for a workout. When he returned home the next day, he discovered the weapon was missing. After an investigation by police, it was determined that the gun was stolen when Whiteside left it in his unlocked Rolls Royce at the gun store.

M-16s cost $50,000 now?? They handed them out free when I was in basic training.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Frank Rizzo's Nightstick Goes On Sale (and Maybe His Cummerbund, Too)

















In the pragmatic words of Alexander "Clubber" Williams (July 9, 1839 – March 25, 1917), NYPD Police Inspector, "There is more law in the end of a policeman's nightstick then in a decision of the Supreme Court."

Now, fans of police nightsticks can bid on the possessions of the legendary Philadelphia Police Commissioner, and later Mayor, Frank Rizzo: Hundreds of items belonging to legendary 1970s Philly mayor Frank Rizzo are up for grabs on Black Friday.
Anyone who has ever wanted a piece of Frank Rizzo is in luck.

The home of the loved and loathed former Philadelphia mayor and police chief is for sale, and so is just about everything inside.

Rizzo's estate sale starts Black Friday, November 23, and will feature hundreds of items both large and small, including his billy club and Rolodex, Italian-made furniture, and a signed picture of Richard Nixon, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.

It's not clear whether the billy club up for grabs is the same one the tuxedo-clad former police commissioner stuck into his cummerbund during a disturbance at a housing project in the 1960s, immortalized in a photo.

Sadly - to me, a modest collector of police memorabilia - it looks like the nightstick for sale is not the same one Rizzo equipped himself with in that immortalized photo. I dunno, maybe I'll bid on the autographed photo of Richard Nixon instead.   

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Picking Up the Pace of New Embassy Construction
















The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently published a report criticizing my good friends in the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations for failing to maintain the rapid pace they had previously set in the Capital Security Construction Program, that long-term program for replacing our most vulnerable overseas diplomatic facilities with 'safe, secure, and modern' new buildings.

You can read the GAO report at a publicly available source of information here: Embassy Construction: Pace Is Slower Than Projected, and State Could Make Program Improvements. A couple excerpts will provide the background for that long-term new embassy building program:
Following the bombings in Africa, the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 required State to develop and report a list of diplomatic facilities scheduled for replacement based on their vulnerability to terrorist attack. One of the congressional findings in the Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act of 1999 was that unless embassy vulnerabilities are addressed in a sustained and financially realistic manner, the lives and safety of U.S. employees in diplomatic facilities will continue to be at risk from further terrorist attacks. State subsequently initiated the CSCP [Capital Security Construction Program] to construct new embassies. The CSCP is administered by OBO. [Page 10]

In general, according to OBO policy, the CSCP is guided by Diplomatic Security’s annual Security Environment Threat List of security rankings for posts, from which OBO develops a “Top 80” list of the 80 most at-risk posts needing a new embassy. OBO uses the Top 80 list to develop and adjust the CSCP schedule, which presents planned embassy awards for the current fiscal year and for each of the next 5 fiscal years. [Page 26]

Well, I'm not sure I share the GAO's concern about the slowing pace of new construction starts, because this past week - which, as you government-employed people, know is the start of a new Fiscal Year - OBO signed a bundle of new design or construction contracts. Here are the press releases:
The Department of State announces the selection of Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill of San Francisco, California as the design architect for the new U.S. Embassy complex in Windhoek, Namibia ... The multi-building complex will be situated on a site in the Klein Windhoek neighborhood and will provide a safe, secure, and modern facility platform for the Embassy community and those it serves.

The Department of State has awarded the construction contract for the new U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India to B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama ... This complex will provide a safe, secure, and modern facility platform for the Embassy community and those it serves. Weiss/Manfredi Architects of New York, New York is the architect for the project.

The Department of State has awarded the construction contract for the new U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras to B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama ... This complex will provide a safe, secure, and modern facility platform for the Embassy community and those it serves. SHoP Architects of New York, New York is the architect for the project.

The Department of State announces the selection of Miller Hull Partnership of Seattle, Washington as the design architect for the new U.S. Consulate General project in Merida, Mexico ... The multi-building complex will be situated on an approximately seven acre site in the Via Montejo development and will provide a safe, secure, and modern facility platform for the Consulate community and those it serves.

The Department of State has awarded the construction contract for the new U.S. Consulate General project in Guadalajara, Mexico to B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama ... This complex will provide a safe, secure, and modern facility platform for the Consulate community and those it serves. Miller Hull Partnership, LLP of Seattle, Washington is the design architect for the project and Page of Washington, D.C. is the architect of record.

The Department of State has awarded the construction contract for the new U.S. Consulate General project in Hermosillo, Mexico to B.L. Harbert International of Birmingham, Alabama ... This complex will provide a safe, secure, and modern facility platform for the Consulate community and those it serves. Richard + Bauer of Phoenix, Arizona is the design architect for the project and Page of Washington, D.C. is the architect of record.

That's six new embassies and consulates now under contract, which is not too shabby. Also, it creates six new slots on that Top 80 list of most at-risk posts for consideration in next year's prioritized contract awards. And for the year after that, and so on, for as long as Congress keeps the Capital Security Construction Program money coming.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Florida Man Constructed His Mail Bombs à la Wile E. Coyote

Now that the would-be mail bomber has been caught, and he turned out to be a juicehead who was - literally - living in a van down by the river, I'm curious about where he got his concept of a mail bomb. What was his mental picture of what a mail bomb should look like?

His packages have a real cartoonish quality to them, as if he was trying to make them look like what Wile E. Coyote would send the the Road Runner. Where did he get that stereotypical image of a mail bomb?

Maybe he got it from the U.S. Postal Service. Note the strong similarity between this USPS mail bomb recognition poster and the handiwork of the Florida Man. The same excessive postage, tape, printed address label with misspellings and all. It looks as if he wanted to put all the warning signs in each of his packages.

Here's what the U.S. Government tells you to be suspicious of in mail or packages:



































And here's what the Florida Man put together. Any similarities?
















Here's an x-ray image of one of the pipe bombs inside the packages. Again, utterly stereotypical of what a pipe is supposed to look like.














He did everything short of putting an Acme Bomb Company logo on them.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week



Military plane inadvertently drops Humvee over Harnett County neighborhood - Cameron, N.C. (WTVD)

A C-17 military plane dropped a Humvee prematurely over a neighborhood in Harnett County Wednesday afternoon, Fort Bragg officials confirmed. No one was injured ... "Everything went as planned except for the early release," said Fort Bragg spokesperson Tom McCollum.