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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Jim Kouri
Bio: Jim Kouri
Date:  November 19, 2006
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Topic category:  Other/General

Homeland Security's Protective MegaCenters

by Jim Kouri, CPP

The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Protective Service through its control centers (MegaCenters) helps provide for the security and protection of federally owned and leased facilities.

To address issues surrounding this task, the Government Accountability Office reviewed FPS's performance measures and past MegaCenter assessments, assessed the MegaCenters' performance measures, and interviewed officials and collected relevant information at FPS, the four MegaCenters, and nine selected security organizations.

FPS MegaCenters provide three primary security services -- alarm monitoring, radio monitoring, and dispatching of FPS police officers and contract security officers. These and other services are provided around the clock from four locations -- Battle Creek, Michigan; Denver, Colorado; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Suitland, Maryland.

With a fiscal year 2006 budget of $23.5 million, the MegaCenters monitor alarms at over 8,300 federal facilities, covering almost 381 million square feet, and have available for dispatch over 7,800 FPS police officers and contract guards.

FPS MegaCenter managers assess MegaCenter operations through a variety of means, including reviewing data about volume and timeliness of operations, listening to and evaluating a sample of calls between operators and FPS police officers and contract guards, and receiving informal feedback about customer satisfaction. FPS managers have also developed performance measures for assessing MegaCenter operations.

However, these measures are of limited use because they are not always clearly stated or measurable and do not address governmentwide priorities of efficiency, cost of service, and outcome--which are among the attributes that GAO has identified for successful performance measures.

In addition, the MegaCenters do not measure a key activity--the time from alarm to officer dispatch -- that would link MegaCenter performance to an FPS-wide performance measure. Without this measure, FPS is limited in its ability to evaluate the MegaCenters' contribution to the FPS-wide measure of response time.

Nine selected security organizations -- including federal and local police and private entities -- offer some of the MegaCenters' services as well as provide and assess these services in a manner that is generally similar to the MegaCenters.

Like the MegaCenters, many of the selected organizations have centralized their operations. They also use regular call reviews and volume and time measures to assess the quality of the services they provide. A major difference between the MegaCenters and some selected organizations is the use of a computer-aided dispatch system, which enables these organizations to automate many functions.

Jim Kouri
Chief of Police Magazine (Contributing Editor)

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Biography - Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com,, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.

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Copyright 2006 by Jim Kouri
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