INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION FORCULTURAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
Reposted from Art Review
On 24 February, museum employees at the Schwules Museum in Berlin discovered evidence of an attack on the institution’s building. Two window panes, the illuminated sign with the museum’s name, and a work of art hanging in front of the entrance door were damaged by gunfire. The attack appears to have happened overnight. The Berlin police department have investigated the scene and collected evidence, though the full extent and cost of the damage is yet to be determined.
Now one of the largest LGBTQ museums in the world, the Schwules Museum was founded in 1984 to support the queer community as well as research on queer history, art and activism. This, however, is not the first time the museum has been targeted: in 2020, one of the museum’s window panes was severely damaged by rocks, and in 2016, the window at the reception area was shot in six places with firearms.
‘I think it’s important to state that we don’t know who did this or why’, Ben Miller, historian and board member of the museum, told Dazed Magazine. ‘However, I’m not sure it’s possible to think about this incident without considering the right-wing, anti-queer mobilisation that we’re seeing around the world. And I think it’s fair to say that we are certainly the target of that kind of mobilisation in general.’ Physical attacks aside, the museum has also experienced Neo-Nazi demonstrations as well as regular threats from phone calls and on social media.
According to a statement issued by the museum, the damaged piece of artwork is a part of Elizabeth Sweeney’s the Unrelenting (2022), created for the ongoing exhibition Queering the Crip, Cripping the Queer, on view through 29 May. The black triangular piece hanging outside the museum references the badges used by the Nazis to label and stigmatise a diverse range of people.
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Reposted from Security Management Magazine
When it released its annual report on hate crime statistics late last year, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation faced criticism that a change in the reporting system used vastly underreported data thereby masking a growing problem. The FBI released an update yesterday with more complete data, and it showed the number of hate crime incidents had increased by 11.6 percent.
The report covers crime statistics from 2021. The original report was the first that required the nation’s local law enforcement agencies to report crime statistics using NIBRS (National Incident-Based Reporting System), and many localities were not able to meet the new reporting requirements. As a result, the December 2022 release covered reports from localities representing 65 percent of the U.S. population.
The supplemental report backfills the data by combining the NIBRS data with the previous system of reporting, meaning the supplement covers 91 percent of the U.S. population. As a result, the FBI’s official number of hate crime incidents reported in 2021 jumped from 7,262 in the December report to 10,840 in the revised supplemental information. There were a total of 12,822 victims of hate crime incidents in 2021. (Note: To access the full supplemental report, users must access the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer and access the “Supplemental Hate Crime Statistics, 2021” link.)
“Preventing, investigating, and prosecuting hate crimes are top priorities for the Justice Department,” Associate U.S. Attorney General Vanita Gupta said in a release, “and reporting is key to each of those priorities. The FBI’s supplemental report demonstrates our unwavering commitment to work with our state and local partners to increase reporting and provide a more complete picture of hate crimes nationwide.”
The 10,840 incidents broken down by type of bias:
In addition, 310 incidents involved multiple types of bias.
The FBI classified a total of 8,327 incidents as hate crime offenses that involved crimes against people. These incidents broken down by type of offense:
In addition, the FBI classified 19 rapes as hate crimes, as well as 18 murders and 70 additional crimes that fell under an “other” category.
Reposted from Victoria Buzz
An activist advocating for action against the climate crisis has thrown pink paint on the Royal BC Museum’s (RBCM) mammoth exhibit to publicly ‘kickstart’ a new protest campaign.
A video was posted to Twitter by On2Ottawa which is the official account for the new campaign wishing to call all Canadians to rally and march on Ottawa to remind political leaders of the ongoing climate crisis if action is not taken.
“If the government does not enact the citizen’s assembly to tackle the climate and ecological crisis in the next one to two years, then we will be travelling to Ottawa to demand one,” said the woman identified as ‘Laura,’ who spread paint on the mammoth.
“At 11 a.m. today an incident took place in which Woolly, the iconic and beloved Royal BC Museum mammoth, was defaced by activists and pink paint was applied to his tusks,” RBCM spokesperson Samantha Rich said in a media statement to Victoria Buzz
“Museum security staff safely reprimanded those involved, and called Victoria Police Department who quickly arrived on the scene and took the activists into custody.”
“Museum staff members from the exhibitions and conservation teams successfully cleaned off the water-soluble paint from the entire diorama.”
“There was no permanent damage to Woolly, who has been a favourite for visitors of the museum for over 40 years, and the exhibition was reopened within 90 minutes.”
“Thanks to a bit of elbow grease, he’s back to his old self. It was helpful that the paint was mainly just on his tusks,” added Rich.
VicPD say they’ve arrested three suspects in connection with the vandalism of the iconic wooly mammoth. Their investigation is ongoing.
Prior to this video, Laura has been featured in another On2Ottawa video explaining why she believes that climate action must be taken by federal government entities.
On2Ottawa is concerned that with rising temperatures, food will become increasingly more difficult to produce as populations grow, frequency of natural disasters will increase and eventually mass migrations will have to take place because more regions will become uninhabitable.
“All this pressure will result in societal collapse and we will not know life as we know it right now,” said Laura in the previous video. “We need drastic change as soon as possible.”
Laura and On2Ottawa say they believe that society as a whole has one to two years to sort this out before our collapse.
The On2Ottawa movement hopes to unite all climate action causes and endeavours to demand a people’s assembly in lieu of our current government.
Rather than democratically voting in politicians, a people’s assembly in On2Ottawa’s vision would see random citizens from across Canada selected and educated on what are the most pressing issues to society as we know it. They would replace our current administration.
Some stories hit harder than others. Whether it’s the news that a grandfather was scammed out of his retirement fund, or a child was the victim of a crime, or civil unrest is displacing thousands of people and putting them at risk of starvation, security professionals and investigators are often confronted by heart-wrenching scenarios. While many security practitioners and analysts can maintain objectivity and a professional distance from these tales of woe, it only takes one incident that resonates to tip even the most practiced professionals into a state of stress and, potentially, trauma.
This is because trauma—including indirect trauma, where the victim is exposed to others’ traumatic incidents and stories—is cumulative, and repeated exposure to troubling situations and news can wear down a person’s natural emotional resilience, says Diana Concannon, PCI, a forensic psychologist and dean of the California School of Forensic Studies at Alliant International University.
Indirect trauma changes a person’s inner worldview as a result of bonding with a victim (even one you have never met) over his or her traumatic experience, Concannon says. This could negatively distort a person’s worldview, convincing them to believe that people will all behave badly, or criminal activity is a default, or significant violent incidents are inevitable. It could be a result of secondary trauma—where the effect is immediate in response to a single event—or vicarious trauma, which builds up gradually. The path to indirect trauma is rarely linear, she notes, but sometimes a particular incident strikes a chord that makes it easier to empathize and relate with a victim (such as if the victim looks like your grandma or if a child the same age as yours is injured), potentially causing a spontaneous reaction.
According to the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, “Vicarious trauma is an occupational challenge for people working and volunteering in the fields of victim services, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire services, and other allied professions, due to their continuous exposure to victims of trauma and violence. This work-related trauma exposure can occur from such experiences as listening to individual clients recount their victimization; looking at videos of exploited children; reviewing case files; hearing about or responding to the aftermath of violence and other traumatic events day after day; and responding to mass violence incidents that have resulted in numerous injuries and deaths.”
People can experience vicarious trauma in a number of ways, from negative reactions (psychosocial symptoms, including critical incident stress or compassion fatigue) to neutral ways (a sign that an individual is managing traumatic material effectively, not that it has no effect) to positive reactions. This latter response is also called vicarious resilience, a state in which the individual “may draw inspiration from a victim’s resilience that strengthens their own mental and emotional fortitude,” the OVC said.
People who work with survivors of trauma or violence are at risk of being negatively impacted by vicarious trauma, and some factors make people more susceptible, including prior traumatic experiences, social isolation, a tendency to avoid feelings, lack of preparation or supervision at work, being newer or less experienced at the job, constant and intense exposure to trauma with little or no variation in work tasks, and a lack of effective and supportive processes for discussing traumatic content. The Vicarious Trauma Toolkit from the OVC noted that people in professions that help others—such as first responders, doctors, social workers, therapists, and victim services professionals—are at high risk of vicarious trauma.
According to compassion fatigue expert Francoise Mathieu’s 2011 book, The Compassion Fatigue Workbook, between 40 and 85 percent of “helping professionals” develop vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue, or high rates of traumatic symptoms, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“It’s really helpful for any managers in the security space to know that when we are dealing with someone who may be diagnosed with PTSD, it’s often not what the Hollywood script looks like,” says Marisa Randazzo, executive director of threat management at Ontic and former chief research psychologist for the U.S. Secret Service. “In a few cases, we see someone who is startled, who is having flashbacks or feels they are living under constant threat, but oftentimes what we see instead is something that is lower level but a lot more chronic.”
In cases that Randazzo has worked throughout her career, security professionals operating with PTSD exhibited symptoms that are not the stereotypical image of traumatization but were more subtle: a lot of sick leave, increased physical ailments, or sleep disruption. “People would wrestle with these symptoms for years,” she says.
While some of the behaviors and symptoms may be similar, vicarious trauma and resulting compassion fatigue is different from burnout. Burnout is the result of broader, unrelenting stressors over a long period of time—such as an unsupportive workplace, long stretches of stress with few breaks, or an unfair culture—that affects energy levels, engagement with work, and personal fulfillment. In comparison, vicarious trauma is emotionally driven and brought about specifically by the subject matter the person is exposed to, and it brings out out feelings of fear and anxiety that can eventually wear security professionals down and compromise their ability to function well.
Randazzo notes that this has impacted colleagues in the national security space, as well as analysts and investigators. “The pressure to be on the lookout for national security threats can feel overwhelming. And it has a cumulative response, so you may have worked in the field for 10 years with no problem, but all of a sudden feel like you can’t handle the work anymore,” she says.
Security analysts and forensic investigators are at risk here, especially because of the nature of aberrant, extreme, or disturbing material they are exposed to as they search for evidence or data to work with. This can often be the case for analysts digging into extremist content online or for people investigating child abuse, exploitation, or trafficking.
“This—appropriately—is traumatizing to a normal psyche,” Concannon explains. “It is disturbing, and it’s very insidious as to its effect on the psyche. We often think that we can compartmentalize our ability to work with such material, and to a certain extent that is true—we can intellectualize it, we can look at it objectively, and that’s what we have to do. But to think that we are in some way immune or that we can separate ourselves from our emotional body as we’re doing that process is a distortion. We’re still a whole human as we’re looking at this material. Over time, we start to have a distorted worldview, because what we’re exposed to becomes our reality. And if we are constantly exposed to material that is slanted in a particular way, that is showing a side of humanity that is not the most favorable, that is looking at people behaving badly, our perception of the world can start to tilt in such a way so that our expectation is that people generally are going to behave that way. And depending on information we’re sorting through, we can expect people to behave in an especially heinous way.”
While many people may have a high level of resilience against this distortion, it is not invincible, she notes. The rate at which resilience is depleted from vicarious trauma is on a continuum—it’s not a straight line, and it varies by individual. A person’s ability to cope with vicarious trauma and repeated exposure to traumatic material depends on many factors, including personality, background, and the availability (or lack) of supportive social and professional resources.
“None of us are immune to it,” Concannon says. “And also, none of us are doomed by it. We all have the same continuum of resilience and depletion, but how we are calibrated on those continuums are different. That depends on our past experiences, our support systems, and—this is the good news—how we manage our exposure to traumatic intelligence. We have the opportunity to consistently build up our resilience and proactively get in front of any vicarious trauma response.”
Vicarious trauma can affect people on personal and professional levels, according to the OVC, with physical, emotional, behavioral, spiritual, cognitive, and relational ramifications, as well as detrimental effects on job performance, morale, workplace relationships, and behavior. Each individual may experience vicarious trauma differently, so it’s important to evaluate behavior based on deviations from that individual’s baseline personality and actions.
A person facing vicarious trauma might feel more suspicious or have a sense that their ability to control their life is being challenged in some way. They might take more risks, or instead they might behave in an overly controlled way, exhibiting agitation if their control or plans are disrupted, Concannon says.
Vicarious trauma challenges a person’s sense of safety, trust, and control, and it also attacks a person’s self-esteem and sense of intimacy—the desire to get close to other people, she says.
Being knocked off balance in this way can result in hypervigilance, and because security professionals are already prone to high levels of vigilance, Concannon says, managers will need to gauge what is out of the ordinary based on the individual. In addition, symptoms of vicarious trauma can include heightened states of emotional arousal, increased suspicion, increased self-doubt, or isolation.
Over time, these heightened states can result in more disruptions at work—potentially leading to a degraded work culture or even workplace violence. In her work with the U.S. Secret Service, Randazzo found that time and again, when security professionals exhibited concerning behavior, from angry outbursts to concerns over behavior such as threatening language or stalking, “it often had some root in trauma.”
“Much like building a house, an organizational response to vicarious trauma requires vision, commitment, and a methodical approach that starts with laying a foundation and then builds up from there,” according to the Vicarious Trauma Toolkit.
The toolkit offers a blueprint for building a trauma-informed organization (including a handy readiness guide assessment tool), and this can be a good place to start for many organizations. The system enables users to determine areas for improvement and designate stakeholders and champions who can push the organization forward into being more supportive of mental wellness.
What does this look like for security departments and managers on a day-to-day basis? It starts with culture—frequently and frankly discussing mental health challenges, the emotional effect of reviewing challenging material, and resources available to employees, Concannon says.
Because each person’s resilience level is different, managers will need to closely observe their baseline behavior and note any deviations from it. Because security personnel and law enforcement have a tendency for self-reliance, it can be challenging to detect changes in behavior early, so Concannon recommends more group debriefings and investing time and resources in building up camaraderie within teams to preempt isolation and to expand the number of people who could notice signs of trouble.
She also recommends building multidisciplinary teams to help tackle difficult or traumatic cases—having multiple people review the material builds a natural group of confidantes who can discuss the cases together and support each other.
These connected groups of comrades give employees more leeway to speak up if they recognize a team member is having trouble coping with the material or the job, giving management an opportunity to share additional resources and offer support, Concannon adds.
“For syndromes such as vicarious trauma, those who are most likely to see us struggling are those with whom we work,” she says. “Our families expect us to be cranky when we’re cranky, so they don’t see it, but coworkers tend to recognize signs in us a little differently. And if we are already part of a team, there’s more permission to come forward and say something. If we’re not part of a team, there tends to be a resistance to coming forward and saying something because there’s a fear of those statements being misunderstood as criticism.”
Overall, she notes, teams offer a built-in support system that augments what a manager provides directly.
Beyond organizational structures, there are many other actions individual managers can take to be more trauma-minded in the workplace. This starts with the self, Randazzo says.
“First of all, I would encourage every manager in the security space to take a hard look at their own level of functioning, because one of the things we’re seeing is an impaired level of management,” she says. “In the work I did in supporting a number of federal agencies after 9/11, we saw impaired managers in the security space and in companies that had lost physical offices or colleagues… Not necessarily in the immediate aftermath, but in the weeks and months after, we saw increasing levels of impaired management, or managers didn’t realize they weren’t functioning—they wanted to be there for their people, but they weren’t getting things done, weren’t doing the things they said they were going to do, started self-medicating on the job.”
Randazzo recommends working with an executive coach or a mentor in the security field to determine your current capacity as a manager and how to improve individual resilience, or to simply have a decompression session where you discuss current challenges.
“The other piece is for managers to really model self-care,” she adds. There is a false duality in many workspaces where managers espouse the value of self-care but then they never take any time off, which undercuts their message and silently discourages employees from stepping away.
The call for self-care extends to ensuring employees (and managers) are getting adequate sleep, nutrition, socialization, and exercise, Concannon says. In addition, they need to maintain a level of awareness of their saturation points—the quantity and depth of traumatic intelligence they are reviewing—and understand when they need to step away and regroup.
She adds that managers should frequently check in with employees—especially those who are regularly confronted with traumatizing material or victims’ stories—and ensure they are taking those breaks.
“It sounds like such a simple thing, but we’ve found from research on firefighters and emergency workers that just checking in and encouraging breaks, walking out for coffee—those little breaks make a big difference and add up,” Concannon says.
Managers and organizational leaders (including HR directors and others) can also invest in employee assistance programs (EAPs) and let people know about those resources early and often. Additional self-care programs or community resources such as fitness centers or running clubs could also be shared, depending on how they fit into the culture of the team, Concannon says.
Another valuable action managers can take is to continuously contextualize what security professionals and analysts are doing. “The work that most security professionals are doing, especially right now in this time in history, is so important,” Concannon adds. “Keeping that work linked to mission and purpose—the value of it—will help maintain a sense of value, honor, and purpose that is fortifying. It’s a counternarrative to the negativity to some of the material.”
“You are proactively creating the scaffolding for resilience,” she says. “If something acute does develop, then something is in place you can lean on to refortify that resilience. Vicarious trauma is not something that is terminal—it is a depletion beyond one’s resilience. Healing happens when resilience is replenished.”
Reposted from WTHR
Federal authorities say dozens of artifacts stolen in the 1970s from museums in several states and dating back as far as the French and Indian War have been returned to the institutions.
The FBI announced Monday at a ceremony at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia that 50 items had been repatriated to 17 institutions in five states.
The artifacts returned Monday included an 1847 Mississippi rifle stolen from a Mississippi museum, a World War II battlefield pickup pistol belonging to General Omar Bradley — stolen from the U.S. Army War College Museum — and 19th century Pennsylvania rifles stolen from Pennsylvania museums, officials said.
Authorities said Michael Corbett of Newark, Delaware, was indicted in December 2021 for possession of items stolen from museums in the 1970s. In August, he pleaded guilty to possession of stolen items transported interstate and turned over additional stolen items, authorities said.
Officials said the items recovered and now returned to their proper owners included:
Jacqueline Maguire, FBI special agent in charge of the Philadelphia office, called it “a rare privilege” to be part of the ceremony returning the stolen items.
“These are artifacts that helped write our national story, with some even predating the country’s birth, and their long absence from public view — hidden away where no one could see or learn from them — was a loss both to society and the historic record,” Maguire said.
Reposted from NPR
Antisemitic text implying that Anne Frank's diary was a forgery was projected onto the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam this week, the museum announced in a statement.
"The Anne Frank House organisation has learned of this with shock and revulsion," the museum said.
The projection on the house where the Frank family hid during World War II read, "Ann Frank [sic], inventor of the ballpoint pen."
It alludes to a debunked far-right conspiracy theory that the diary was a forgery because part of it was written in ballpoint pen, which were not yet in use while Anne lived. The theory was meticulously and scientifically disproven by the Dutch government, The New York Times reported in 1989.
This false claim is used to question or deny the Holocaust.
Footage of the projection appeared in a hate video in a private Telegram group from the U.S., the museum's statement says.
Dutch police said they are investigating the incident, according to the Associated Press. The museum says it is in touch with authorities and the Amsterdam City Council.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the projection "reprehensible" and said there's "no place for antisemitism in our country" on Twitter.
Anne was a Jewish girl who kept a diary while in hiding with her family for about two years during World War II. The journal chronicled her life, feelings and thoughts.
She died in a concentration camp in 1945.
Her father, Otto, survived the Holocaust and published her diary, which has since sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into dozens of languages.
"The diary of Anne Frank is one of the most important testimonies of the persecution of the Jews during the Second World War," the museum's statement says.
In his landmark TED Talk in 2009, author and inspirational speaker Simon Sinek introduced the world to Start with Why, a premise that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. As of this writing, it is the third most watched TED Talk of all time. His book of the same title has sold millions of copies.
In both, Sinek says that every single person and organization on the planet knows what they do, some know how they do it, but few know why they do what they do. By “why,” he asks: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why should anyone care? Why does your team, group, or organization exist? Sinek argues that we go from the clearest thing (what we do) to the fuzziest thing (why we do it). In contrast, inspired leaders and organizations—regardless of their size or their industry—all think, act, and communicate from the inside out.
As physical security risk managers, we tend to be very clear as to what we do on a daily basis—we safeguard people, property, processes, and information. Most of us know how we do it—we implement pragmatic, risk-driven, high-value controls to mitigate near miss and loss events. But when was the last time you asked yourself why you do it?
It’s a simple question, isn’t it? So simple, perhaps, that you’ve never taken the time to ask it. If you’re struggling to answer this, it should then come as no surprise that your peers and senior leaders may have the same questions of you, your department, and its position within your organization.
Several years ago while meeting with a regional business leader I was challenged when he asked, “Once we have our security standards and governance program developed, why do we need you or your department?” I was both stunned and a little humiliated. If his objective was to provoke emotion and to revel my discomfort, he almost succeeded. But in a rare display of wisdom and candor, I replied, “One could ask the same about your legal, HR, or finance departments. There are plenty of options for outsourcing those responsibilities, yet you don’t. Why? Because nothing beats a trusted in-house advisor with skin in the game who is invested in and understands the organization, the strategy, the product, and the people.” He seemed satisfied with the answer, and I managed to avoid walking into a minefield.
This should not have been an issue for him to raise nor a challenge for me to answer. If he was genuine in his curiosity—and it wasn’t just a cheap thrill to see how I tap-danced—there was a gap I needed to address. I needed to make it abundantly clear why our department needed to exist.
“The corporate security graveyard is littered with the corpses of failed security programs in which roles weren’t defined, terminology wasn’t established, and methods for measuring success weren’t disclosed,” says Ray O’Hara, CPP, former president of ASIS International. “If we don’t define this early, clearly, and often, we’ll be misunderstood at best and dismissed at worst. Alignment with your internal customers is critical for success.”
The most foundational governance products every department should first establish are program standards. This is the “why” document. At a high level, it establishes credibility and trust and answers the questions: “Why do we need a security department within our organization,” “What are our responsibilities,” and “How do we intend to achieve success?” It’s an impactful document that establishes your jurisdiction and tells the organization what they can expect from you.
What might a department standard look like? This is by no means a comprehensive listing, but your why might be codified within the following elements:
It’s critical to take a collaborative approach when creating program standards, so enlisting the support from colleagues in departments like legal, HR, cybersecurity, risk management, and safety will aid in buy-in and deconfliction, and you might be able to even borrow similar style, terminology, and processes from them. After all, few of us can claim our standards, procedures and governance products are truly proprietary. They are usually blends of other products from various organizations which can apply best for our industry, organization, location, and culture. Consult codified standards from organizations like ISO, ANSI, NIST, and ASIS. Benchmark drafts with peer organizations.
Further, you will likely be sharing risk with various departments, so it’s critical to understand existing jurisdictions. Finally, to have any status, this document should be reviewed and approved by senior leadership. There will be challenges to your authority and you will need support to defend against this.
This sounds like a lot to consider, but remember, this is not a prescriptive “how-to” manual. Those are your security procedures, a separate governance product. This is a high-level manifesto of sorts which is intended to tell the world of your organization’s purpose—your why—and it should be written such that non-security colleagues and the lowest common elements within your organization can understand it. I’ve found department standards can be adequately communicated in 100 pages or less.
Once you have established why you need a security department within your organization, the next logical question is “How should your associates carry out their responsibilities?” This tactical and operational product will likely be the most consulted governance document within your arsenal, and the establishment and contents of this are the subject of the next article in this series.
But first, start with why.
The comments and views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and may not reflect those of his employer.
Reposted from The Boston Globe
While the soup-wielding climate activists of Europe have yet to target the Museum of Fine Arts, the Huntington Avenue collection has been under a different kind of threat recently: Over the past two years there have been a pair of troubling water leaks in the building, including one earlier this month, caused by freezing pipes that burst in the attic, sending water pouring into the galleries below.
No artworks were damaged in either incident, MFA officials said. That’s in part because the museum’s in-house security guards were quickly on the scene, deploying plastic coverings to protect masterpieces and using garbage cans to catch falling water — work praised by MFA officials, who said the museum was “grateful for their action.”
“They want to end our employment with the museum,” said John Moore, president of the Museum Independent Security Union, known as MISU. “In order to stay working at the museum, we would have to undergo a background check from an outside company that would take on our union and become our employer.”
The number of in-house security guards at the MFA has plummeted in recent years, and the museum already relies often on outside guards to fill any shortfalls.
In a pair of letters addressed to the union’s roughly 50 security officers, MFA director Matthew Teitelbaum sought to assure them the museum will “keep the security unit whole.”
We “are committed to ensuring that all members of the MISU would remain in their current positions even if there was a transfer of employment,” Teitelbaum wrote in a letter dated Feb. 7 and shared with the Globe. “Above all, we are committed to working only with a partner that shares the MFA’s values and understands the role of each member of the security team.”
The museum’s director of public relations, Karen Frascona, said the MFA needs to outsource guard duties and management because it faces “increasingly complex security issues.” She added that outsourcing guards would free up managers to focus on “a more global and strategic approach to ensuring the safety of our staff, visitors, and the collection.”
“We believe this is the most effective way for MFA security to remain strong in the years ahead,” Frascona said via e-mail. She added that the museum would only move forward once it has identified a firm that “can match the compensation and generous benefits that our protective services staff enjoy today and will continue to enjoy under our proposed contract.”
The conflict arrives at a critical moment for museums, as their workers across the country have sought to unionize and pandemic-era ticket sales remain anemic. Meanwhile, museums have been under pressure to reduce their overt security presence, even as climate activists target their galleries for high-profile stunts, including throwing food at artwork.
In Boston, the recently formed MFA Union went on strike before signing its first contract agreement last summer. Meanwhile, museum visits remain far below pre-pandemic levels, with 550,000 fewer visitors in 2022 than in 2019, a decline of nearly 45 percent. The museum’s operating budget is also diminished, off some $8.5 million between fiscal years 2019 and 2022.
Then there are the leaks.
On Jan. 3, 2021, a computer malfunction caused HVAC coils to freeze and burst in the attic above a large gallery devoted to Impressionism. The rupture, which occurred while the museum was shuttered by the pandemic, sent water flowing down a gallery wall, coursing behind prized masterworks by Manet, Gustave Caillebotte, and Degas.
In the second incident, on Feb. 4, as temperatures in the negative double digits wreaked havoc on pipes around the city, a mechanical failure caused a coil in the same attic to freeze and fracture. Water cascaded from the ceiling into one of the museum’s newly renovated galleries for Dutch and Flemish art, dripping near Golden Age splendors including a pair of beloved Rembrandt portraits.
Though the affected artworks emerged unscathed from both flooding events, the 2021 leak caused minor damage to several frames, which have been repaired.
Frascona said the MFA continues to “review and identify” the building’s needs, including “best options to condition the attic climate so that extreme temperatures do not cause future issues.” She added that the museum installed internal alarms following the 2021 leak, which “immediately notified the engineers,” who then located the leaks and turned off the valves during the more recent incident, in February.
Even so, guards say it was partly their experience and expertise that helped ensure the artwork remained safe.
“The reason we knew what to do is that it happened two years ago,” said one guard who requested anonymity out of concern of professional reprisals. “After the first leak, I thought they would take it seriously and have a better response.”
Frascona praised the guards’ work, noting “the officers acted quickly and followed our protocol of observing and reporting any security issues they see to a supervisor.”
Currently, the MFA augments its in-house security with guards from a pair of security firms on an “as needed” basis. Meanwhile, the number of in-house guards has dwindled: just 52 now, compared to more than 100 at the end of 2014, according to the museum.
The remaining guards tend to skew older, said Moore, who estimated more than 70 percent of them have been at the MFA a decade or longer.
“We’re experienced, we know that building, we bring commitment and loyalty,” said Moore, who after 35 years makes $21.76 an hour, plus benefits. “Nothing personal against subcontractors, but if they’re working at the museum one day and a department store the next, I can’t imagine them being all that committed.”
MISU’s diminished ranks worry other museum employees as well.
“With fewer MFA guards circulating in the galleries, staff have noticed an increase in the number of visitor interactions with artwork,” MFA Union leadership wrote in an open letter. “We do not believe the MFA is best served by contract guards who are unable to adequately protect staff, visitors, and the collection.”
Low guard numbers are due in part to the pandemic, said Frascona, who added that the museum has struggled to fill open positions after it lifted pandemic-induced hiring freezes.
“This is another reason we are considering partnering with an outside organization that possesses the scale, resources, and expertise to invest in our protective services team,” she said. The museum is seeking a firm that can offer “expanded professional development, training, and educational opportunities,” Frascona said.
Until recently, the MFA paid guards a starting hourly rate of $15.75, plus benefits. It now offers new guards $18.50, and its current proposal includes annual pay raises.
“Everybody’s having trouble finding people,” said Steve Keller, a Florida-based cultural property security consultant. “The solution to that is simple: Pay what the market requires.”
Some guards have considered going on strike, but their contract, currently on extension, has a “no-strike” clause, said Moore, who’s been organizing a leaflet campaign outside the museum each weekend.
And while the MFA has sought to assure them that any change would have minimal effect on their day-to-day jobs, benefits, and pay, the question remains: What happens when the contract ends and guards must negotiate with their new employer?
The “MFA’s strong preference would always be to keep the MFA family together,” said Frascona. But “responsibility to negotiate for future collective bargaining agreements would fall primarily to a potential future employer.”
Clifford Cunningham, who’s worked for a decade as an MFA guard, said the sense of acrimony over the issue is “palpable.”
“It’s mind-boggling,” he said. “Our people have been there 20, 30 years — you can’t just bring somebody on and gain all that experience back.”
Asian elephants are one of the largest mammal species on the planet. At birth, they can weigh 200 pounds and will drink more than four gallons of milk a day. At around age 14, male elephants in the wild will leave their mothers and join a group of other male elephants—a bachelor squad—that they will spend a great portion of their lives with before beginning to spend more time alone.
They will form attachments to other male elephants in their group and adhere to a hierarchy that serves to reduce conflict over the resources in their ecosystem. They also continue to grow until age 25 when they will weigh between 7,000 and 13,250 pounds and eat for about 16 hours a day. Along with creating a rich life, these habits also mean that male elephants require a great deal of space to thrive—one of the reasons they are not typically housed together in captivity.
But where many zoos saw an enormous challenge, the Denver Zoo saw an opportunity to create a space where multiple male elephants in different life phases could cohabitate. Located in downtown Denver, Colorado, the zoo opened in 1896 with a small collection of caged animals before becoming the first zoo in the world to feature animals at eye level in their natural habitats without bars or fences separating them from humans. The zoo now spreads across 84 acres and is home to more than 3,000 animals from around the world, living in unique habitats designed to support their natural instincts.
“We knew we’d have a younger elephant as well as older ones, so we had to think about how could we build a building that can have a 50-year-old and a 5-year-old? A building where as they mature and go through their hormonal cycles, where they’re big and powerful, they can still be together?” asks Leslie Chenaille, director of guest safety and operations at the Denver Zoo.
That thought process led to the creation of the Toyota Elephant Passage, which features two miles of interconnected trails on 10 acres of terrain where a rhinoceros, Malayan tapirs, and five male Asian elephants live. It has six yards, five of which can open into each other, and five pools of 1.1 million gallons of water for swimming. It is one of the largest and most complex elephant habitats in North America.
The habitat has been open for 10 years now and encapsulates the innovative approach that the Denver Zoo takes to creating exhibits, designs, and experiences for the animals in its care and its guests who visit, Chenaille says.
That innovation has seeped into how the zoo approaches safety and security, from investing in new video equipment to access control systems to—more recently—designing and conducting an active shooter drill with local first responders. This investment is not surprising, given the zoo’s location.
“I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life. I witnessed Columbine as it happened, and the Aurora movie theater shooting,” Chenaille says. “We’ve had a lot of big shootings. I felt we needed to test our infrastructure and make some of those connections with our first responders.”
When Alex Jadrich, manager of public safety, security, and emergency management, joined the zoo’s security team in January 2021 after seven years at Disney, he was looking forward to continuing to work in a joyful environment. The zoo “bridges what I was experiencing at Disney as a happy, fun type of environment to also the serious manner of having live assets and a large campus” to protect, he says.
Jadrich reports to Chenaille, as well as the senior director of operations, the chief operating officer, and the CEO, and he oversees a team of entry level security specialists, lead security specialists (shift supervisors), and two security coordinators. They are responsible for key control, staff access control, perimeter control, guest behavior, and containment of the animal exhibits, as well as special projects to keep up with the changing needs and footprint of the zoo.
Jadrich leads the crisis management team, which he says is “about making sure every individual is able to handle a crisis and the incident command that might arise—whether it is an active shooter event or an animal escape event.”
In Jadrich’s previous role at Disney, the security team ran full-scale active shooter drills. But at the Denver Zoo, this exercise history did not exist. And given its location in the downtown core of Denver, Jadrich recognized that parts of the zoo were soft targets.
So, he pitched the idea internally to conduct an active shooter drill at the zoo with local law enforcement and first responders. Chenaille was almost immediately onboard.
“Unfortunately, it’s a reality of our world,” she says of active shooter incidents in public spaces. “I felt we owed it to our zoo guests and staff to ensure their safety in this situation.”
After presenting the concept to the zoo’s CEO and the board of governors, who approved of the plan, Jadrich set a timeline of one year to design the drill, coordinate with first responders, and hold the exercise.
To kick off the effort, Jadrich assembled an internal stakeholder design team that included executives from animal care, guest experiences, and operations to provide input, support, and help in creating and designing the final drill.
Then, the team reached out to Denver’s Office of Emergency Management to connect with local commanders, chiefs, and captains in charge of agencies that had jurisdiction over the zoo and would collaborate with the team on the drill.
“From that first meeting with those leaders—from Denver Police, Fire, Health, and the FBI—there was immediate support,” Jadrich says. “Our local agencies aren’t given the opportunity and space and properties to do these full-scale trainings. They usually don’t work in a unified space. So, they were grateful that we were providing one.”
With all the players on board, the design team began developing a scenario to build the active shooter drill around. It decided to use the unique environment of being a zoo as the leading component.
“We wanted to include a component of an active shooter coming here, causing chaos, and taking hostage an employee—an animal keeper—with the intent to release animals into the public,” Jadrich says. “From there we tied in the animal terrorist group, the Animal Liberation Front, active in the past, and we designed the drill around it wanting to free animals from containment.”
Then, using that scenario, the design team conducted a tabletop exercise in September 2021 with internal and external stakeholders.
“We wanted to make sure we could talk through things in a tabletop forum and learn some things prior to doing the full-scale exercise,” Jadrich adds.
That tabletop exercise led to an understanding about access control needs for first responders, such as how they might get into an area of the zoo that uses an electronic proximity card system instead of a hard key system.
The exercise also helped the design team finalize the necessary stakeholders for participating in the drill and others that needed to be informed about it—such as the Denver mayor and the Colorado governor—because they would be notified if a real incident occurred.
“That helped us think through the brand damage and what that might look like—what our process of communication would be to the public and to our staff,” Jadrich says.
Meanwhile, Chenaille says she was engaging in regular discussions with zoo staff about why conducting this active shooter drill was important for the entire team while also respecting the fact that it might be difficult for staff to participate in the drill.
“We have survivors of mass shootings on staff who chose to opt out,” Chenaille says. “We weren’t going to force anyone to do something that made them uncomfortable.”
At the same time, the zoo also focused on providing access to mental health resources to staff—both before and after the drill.
“We know we’re in a mental health crisis, so we wanted to recognize that this could spur something later—especially as more shootings have happened in the United States,” she adds.
In the lead-up to the drill, Chenaille worked to provide Jadrich and his team with all the resources they would need to exercise it. They also worked on fine-tuning some of the details.
One of the major considerations in creating the drill was how the animals would respond. The planned scenario had a gunman firing a shot near the entrance to the zoo, which was near the lions’, hyenas’, and penguins’ exhibits.
“We weren’t so concerned about the penguins,” Chenaille explains. “But when you have giant predators, you worry that you could scare an animal and create a situation—whether that be an animal runs and gets hurt or creates an emergency where they get into areas they shouldn’t.”
To better understand how the animals might react, the security team held a practice session. The group came in after hours and fired off a blank gunshot near the lions’ and hyenas’ enclosures. “And they slept,” Chenaille says.
Another consideration was ensuring that the ammunition used for the drill—blanks—was properly handled to guarantee that no live rounds were accidentally used. This became top of mind following a fatal accidental shooting on a movie set in October 2021, involving a prop gun and a live round introduced into the blank ammunition used on set.
As a safeguard, the design team created a procedure where an initial safety check would take place at the police precinct and then a visual and physical blank round verification would be conducted. Additionally, a witness would watch blank rounds be loaded into the shooter’s rifle—clearly marked with red tape around the magazine and barrel. All other firearms on site would be verified cleared, with no blank rounds fired other than those by the individual playing the role of the drill gunman.
Finally, the design team focused on ensuring that the message was out to the community that the zoo would be closed on the day of the active shooter drill, as well as providing messaging to staff via an internal document on what to expect with the drill.
In the last 24 hours before the drill, the team prepped its incident command post and made sure everyone was ready to go for the following day, 26 April 2022.
To make the drill seem more realistic, 17 staff volunteered to be crisis actors—pretending to play members of the public who normally would be at the zoo in the morning to see the animals. These staff members signed liability waivers before participating and then arrived on drill day to have their makeup done to help set the tone, Jadrich says.
The first responder agencies and stakeholders observing the drill also arrived that morning. Jadrich did a safety walk-through to make sure everything was set, and then it was time to start.
A Denver police officer posing as the terrorist gunman arrived at the zoo in a vehicle, driving up to the security bollard infrastructure. He then exited and fired off blank rounds at the crisis actors in the main entry plaza near the lions, hyenas, and penguins.
The posing gunman then walked through the main gate to the zoo, made his way to the Pahali ya Simba building, where a guest viewing area for Predator Ridge is located, and took a member of the animal care staff hostage with the intent to gain access to release animals.
Meanwhile, a security alert went out, and local law enforcement—including Denver’s SWAT team—responded to the zoo to negotiate with the gunman and stop further violence from occurring. Then, medical response teams provided triage and aid to the crisis actors injured by the drill gunman.
The team ran the drill three times, with the incident commander rotating each time to give multiple first responders the opportunity to participate in the training. The animals were—surprisingly—unfazed by the blanks fired. They were, however, very interested in drones that law enforcement used to surveil the scene, Chenaille adds.
The design team then held a hotwash debrief immediately after the third drill to allow participants to provide feedback while the experience was still fresh.
“We included every stakeholder—crisis actors, first responders, and other internal and external folks that were involved,” Jadrich says. “We wanted everyone to have a forum where they could constructively provide feedback to everyone.”
One of the main takeaways was the external agencies—fire, EMS, and police personnel—were able to identify some gaps in their processes for responding to the shooting that they might otherwise not have known about because of the scale of the drill.
Additionally, the staff volunteers shared that the experience was enlightening on how law enforcement responds to an active shooter. In these situations, police officers generally do not provide first aid or information to individuals who might be injured or on the scene. Instead, their focus is to engage and eliminate the shooter.
“One of the things we had to help the crisis actors understand is that the police are there to address the threat,” Jadrich says. “Things like that were brought up, and we were able to help them understand some of the roles first responders were taking in the drill.”
The experience also highlighted the need when planning a training scenario to create a large drill space for the scene for first responders to move through.
“When we were building the drill—the scene and the space for it—we thought it would take two hours for first responders to triage,” Jadrich says. “We quickly realized that first responders and law enforcement, when responding in a real time situation, were very quick to take out the bad actor and save lives.”
The drill provided a “huge security training opportunity” for the team and was an “eye-opening experience” for the zoo staff, Chenaille says. It also showed how the zoo can continue to move its standards forward by understanding what its weaknesses are, addressing vulnerabilities, and identifying the resources required to fix them.
Since holding the drill in April, the Denver Zoo has received requests from other zoos in the area for guidance on crafting their own training scenarios. Chenaille says one of the most important things to keep in mind when responding to these requests is to understand what their true goals are in holding a training exercise.
“Our goal was focused on first responders having access to do this,” Chenaille says, explaining that 80 percent of the actual drill was carried out by first responders, with 20 percent conducted by Denver Zoo staff in the form of security support and crisis actors. “You have to pick your goal, then know your steps, and get your staff on board—then you can go to your first responders.”
Along with sharing the Denver Zoo’s experience, Jadrich also recommends that security practitioners at zoos—and other facilities—take advantage of U.S. federally funded opportunities for training from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“FEMA and DHS have incident command training, and then there are other courses they provide where you can invite facilitators out to have training onsite to develop internal training and knowledge,” he adds.
Jadrich also recommends using the relationships already established. For instance, the local Office of Emergency Management Personnel was able to provide the Denver Zoo with documentation from FEMA about planning, implementing, and documenting after-action reports for emergency drills.
“All those items were things we could use, and we didn’t have to create them,” he says. “It was a timesaver in the sense of putting everything together on paper.”
Additionally, the exercise acted as a conversation starter on what existing drills the zoo conducts that first responders should be more engaged in—such as animal emergency drills, called Code Reds.
“That’s when a dangerous animal gets into a place it shouldn’t be—a moat, over a fence, on a main path,” Chenaille says. “One of the things I want to do, especially in light of the active shooter drill, is bring our first responders into that. This drill showed us why that’s important and that we have partnerships now to do it.”
The active shooter drill has also opened the door to planning drills for bomb threats, fire situations, and hostile vehicle scenarios, Jadrich says.
“We absolutely want to do this again in the future,” he adds. “We found that by working with these agencies, we really built those relationships to make the zoo as safe as it possibly can be.”
Reposted from ArtNews
A 50-year-old man who was accused of stealing three artworks from Greece’s National Gallery in Athens in January 2012 received a suspended prison sentence of six years on Friday.
The works stolen included Pablo Picasso’s painting Head of a Woman (1934), Piet Mondrian’s painting Stammer Windmill with Summer House (1905), and Guglielmo Caccia’s sketch St. Diego de Alcala in Ecstasy with the Holy Trinity and the Symbols of Passion.
The man, Giorgos Sarmantzopoulos, was found guilty of aggravated theft; the court, however, recognized his good behavior following the heist and suspended his sentence pending his appeal on the condition that he wears a monitor and stays within approximately two miles of his house.
Dubbed the “heist of the century,” the theft occurred on January 9, 2012, when Sarmantzopoulos entered the National Gallery through an unsecured balcony door. He tricked guards by triggering repeated false alarms. He then took the paintings and fled to a staircase leading to the basement, where he removed the paintings from their frames using a pocketknife. Though he maintains that he acted alone, another account detailed a second person who supposedly kept watch.
After the heist, the thief remained at large for nearly a decade.
Sarmantzopoulos was finally arrested in June 2021. Sarmantzopoulos told authorities then that he had been working in construction as a painter and that he stole the paintings out of a self-described “passion for art.”
At the time of his arrest, Sarmantzopoulos handed over the paintings by Picasso and Mondrian to the authorities and claimed the third by Caccia was destroyed.
“The irreversible damage was seen during the inspection. The color consistency was damaged. These works must be kept in special conditions so that they are not damaged,” Eftychia Agathonikou, the director of the museum’s collections, testified in court.
Lawyer and art collector Stelios Garipis said in court that he does not believe that Sarmantzopoulos committed a crime of passion. “He is a member of an international ring. A Dutch detective contacted me and told me that he has a lot of information about him… It was no coincidence that two works were returned,” he said.
“The painting [by Caccia], which is supposed to have been destroyed, was rumored to have appeared in an auction in Florence. I contacted the National Gallery to see what actions they had taken,” Garipis continued. “The simplest thing would have been to send documents [to the auction house] and see who received the painting. Because it wasn’t sold. They [the National Gallery] did nothing.”
It is unclear if the Caccia was actually destroyed. According to Garipis, foreign experts subsequently identified the work in Florence as the same Caccia piece that had been stolen from Athens.
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