Make Greater Use of Electronic Monitoring Systems to Provide After-Hours Building Security

Texas should use electronic monitoring systems to provide after-hours building security at state facilities.

The Capitol Police, a division of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), is primarily responsible for safeguarding state employ ees and property. To accomplish this, DPS employs both security staff and commissioned peace officers. The commissioned officers are sworn police officers, while the security workers do not carry guns and do not have the authority to make arrests. The comm issioned officers patrol the state s Capitol Complex, while the security officers are posted in state office buildings to control access before and after regular working hours on weekdays and on weekends.

Access to buildings after hours currently is granted to employees carrying photo-ID building passes issued by DPS. These cards are renewed annually via a form that must be filled out, approved by the employees agency security coordinator and taken to the DPS Capitol Complex office, where a photograph o f the employee is taken. If security personnel are not on hand when an employee arrives for after-hours work, he or she must wait outside. At times, staff have had to wait for 20 minutes or more. Often, if staff members wait long enough, they can enter the ir building by catching the open door of someone who is leaving. Such experiences are inconvenient to staff members and could be dangerous if unauthorized persons gain entry.

Electronic key cards would eliminate the need for card renewal. Moreover, when an employee leaves an agency, his or her card would be deactivated immediately. The returned card could then be reissued to another employee; cards only need to be replaced if t hey fail. Finally, electronic access systems would admit authorized employees at all times and accurately record their comings and goings.

After working hours, all doors would be locked. One main entry to each state building would be linked to a central security computer monitored by DPS. Any employee needing after-hours building access would simply pass his or her badge over a card scanner t hat would read it, record the time and the employee s name and then deactivate a magnetic door lock, allowing the person to enter. Names and times of departure would be recorded in the same mann er, providing an accurate accounting of after-hours activity.

Electronically secured buildings commonly provide a phone at the main entrance to allow visitors or delivery personnel to contact persons inside the buildings upon arrival. These phones do not provide access to outside or long-distance numbers.

DPS currently monitors three state buildings with an electronic card security system and is converting another building to the system. However, the computer that supports this system is limited to one f unction at a time; for example, it either can run the building activity report, issue cards or monitor security, but not all three at once. The system also lacks the capability to monitor additional buildings.

Upgrading this system would require a one-time cost of $95,000. With an upgraded system, cards could be issued while someone else runs reports, and yet another person monitors building security. An upgraded system such as this would be adequate for buildin gs in the Capitol Complex as well as the state s Winters complex and the Heatley building.

An electronic monitoring system is a cost-effective method for providing security to state buildings and should be used whenever possible.

Since the state has already purchased a basic system, a simple upgrade should eliminate any need for additional hardware. Phones with limited dialing capabilities should be placed at the entrance for contacting staff inside the building.

Key card systems for state office buildings would allow DPS s Capitol security force to be reduced by 22. Also, such systems are customer friendly; no time is wasted waiting for security personnel or renewing badges. Finally, an electronic card system would provide DPS with a comprehensive and coordinated secur ity system, allowing them to monitor state facilities more efficiently and effectively.

Fiscal Impact
An adequate electronic card security system would entail a one-time cost for changes to the existing main computer, installation of main door access sys tems and purchase of the electronic key cards, as well as an estimated yearly maintenance cost of $2,500. A net savings of nearly $1.5 million over the next five years would result from a reduced security staff. In order to achieve the savings, the Legisl ature should reduce the appropriation to DPS by the savings indicated.

Fiscal Savings to the General Cost to General Net Savings to the Change in
Year Revenue Fund 001 Revenue Fund 001 General Revenue Fund 001 FTEs

1994 $360,000 $318,000 $ 42,000 -22
1995 360,000 2,000 358,000 -22
1996 360,000 2,000 358,000 -22
1997 360,000 2,000 358,000 -22
1998 360,000 2,000 358,000 -22