High-rise security in Los Angeles

Security for high-rise buildings like the 36-story building 10 Universal City Plaza in Los Angeles requires specialized techniques and thorough planning to keep people and property safe and secure.

Upon entering the front doors, the first thing a visitor sees is a low row of sleek electronic turnstiles, which the building’s more than 2,000 authorized workers activate with handheld key fobs. The person seeking entry briefly passes the key fob over a sensor plate atop the machine and walks through as a green light at the machine’s end flashes. If the entry is not secure – for example, if more than one person walks in on a single key fob pass – a red light will flash and the posted security screener will ask for identification.

Visitors are directed by signs to a nearby security desk, where the security officer scans the guest’s driver’s license into a web-based electronic system and matches it to one of the 40 tenant company visitor lists, also electronic. Each day, more than 300 visitors are checked in at the security console.

Universal Pictures and Universal Music Group are the largest tenants, with their companies leasing 80 percent of the building. In an industry known for super-sized personalities, being firm without creating a confrontation with a tenant or a tenant’s visitor is not always easy. “We have a lot of powerful people, entertainment VIPs and movie and music stars,” comments Don Hall, Property Manager in charge of the 771,277 square foot site’s day-to-day and financial operations. “The Securitas officers on site have the skill and training to handle themselves in every situation with professionalism and authority.” 

Specialized security training

The site’s 25 security officers, who help protect the building 24/7 with the help of CCTV, are specifically selected for their people skills and then trained to provide security in a high-rise. Their standard 40 hours of training include first-aid/CPR, weaponless self-defense, ways to handle potentially physical confrontations without using force, how to be an effective witness in court, bomb detection and earthquake preparedness.

Here at 10 Universal City Plaza, as at other high-rises, security staff oversees many of the basic security measures in the building. When an alarm goes off and engineers responsible for taking the appropriate steps are not present, Securitas officers step in, making emergency announcements within the building and calling in emergency services when required. 

Safely out: emergency procedures

In a high-rise, the best place to go in an emergency is almost always down the stairs. Security officers are responsible for many evacuation details as spelled out in the Emergency Plan filed with the Los Angeles Fire Department. Each security officer has an area of responsibility that also overlaps into other areas so that there is intentional redundancy.

Each of the building’s tenant companies is responsible for sharing information with its employees on what to do in an emergency. Securitas supports that effort by holding training classes, where tenants from different floors are identified as floor wardens and provided with response information to share with their employees.

“High rise buildings, especially those within the City of Los Angeles, are required to meet stringent Fire, Life, Safety criteria,” says Lawton Chin, Chief Engineer for 10 Universal City Plaza. “What allows Securitas to go above and beyond other security providers is the high caliber of officers they bring in.

“This level of experience and knowledge enables them to participate in the implementation and compliance to all of required criteria. They are heavily involved in writing and updating our emergency manuals and take the lead for implementing the annual evacuation drill. Securitas’ experience in serving the high-rise market helps provide us with high quality service.”

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