If you live, work or visit in Lower Manhattan, you are bound to run into some of our favorite furry, four-legged security officers. At 120 Broadway, a Silverstein property that houses the Downtown Alliance offices, many employees have become friendly with Zorro, a stunning black German Shepherd, and his very friendly handler, Mike Burger. “Zorro is developing quite the fan base among tenants and tourists,” says Burger. He is often stopped and asked to have a picture taken with Zorro.
While streams of employees greet Zorro as they enter and exit the building, Burger can always be spotted answering questions folks have about his canine partner and the training they do together. With such a noticeable presence in Lower Manhattan, we wanted to share what we’ve learned from Burger and Sal Lifrieri, the head of Protective Countermeasures (PCM), the security consulting firm that facilitates Burger and Zorro’s canine program (there are five other PCM K9 teams assigned to patrol buildings around Lower Manhattan). Here is Part 1 of our conversation with Lifrieri:
What is your background in security and surveillance?
I served as the Director of Security and Intelligence Operations for Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s Office of Emergency Management, where I was responsible for the management of security, intelligence and counter-surveillance operations. I was also a member of the NYPD hostage negotiation team for 12 years. My firm has provided security consulting and explosive canine detection services for New York City real estate companies, such as Silverstein Properties, for over 10 years.
What services does your firm provide to commercial tenants?
The PCM team coordinates a security service package, most of which is performed on a daily basis and not noticeable to tenants. Counter-surveillance operations, monthly security audits, corporate consultations regarding threat alerts and “Lunch and Learn” training programs are all part of the package of security services being provided, which includes explosive canine detection coordination.
Why is it important to have a K9 unit and what services do they provide?
Building owners need to be proactive rather than re-active. The canine operation is an excellent response tool to bomb threats. The K9 team consists of one certified handler and one canine trained in bomb detection. The team is onsite with a random service time, so there is no defined pattern of protection. They search the perimeter, loading dock, critical infrastructure and spend time in the lobby as a “security presence.”
Are these working dogs sociable?
Very much so. The dogs are well socialized, friendly and playful when they are not working, and give tenants an added sense of security. Tenants feel secure seeing the teams. Some even bring treats to the canines and others have asked for autographed pictures!
That’s all for now. Tune in next week for Part 2 of this interview as we get more up-close and personal and learn how these dogs are selected, where they go after a hard day’s work and whether Zorro is a Yankees or Mets fan!
In the meantime, if you would like more information on the K9 program or other security services provided by Protective Countermeasures, visit www.protectivecountermeasures.com or call (914) 576-8706.