Inside The Presidency

Security Expert: Former Secret Service Agent, Presidential Protection
Presidential Limo
Presidential Limo
The White House
The White House
Air Force One
Air Force One

Inside the Presidency
Few outsiders ever see the President’s private enclave.
By Elisabeth Bumiller

History always makes a sharp turn in Washington when a new American President takes the oath of office, and so it will once again on January 20, 2009. There will be new Cabinet members, a new Congress, a new foreign policy, a new style in the East Wing, new embarrassing relatives (if the past is any guide), and new first friends.

But many other things in the private world of the President of the United States will stay remarkably the same. The maids on the permanent White House housekeeping staff will make the presidential bed, just as they always have. The kitchen staff will still peel potatoes and scramble eggs. The gardeners will have planted 3,500 tulip bulbs to bloom in the Rose Garden in the spring.

The permanent care and feeding of the President of the United States is an industry staffed by hundreds of people, largely supported by taxpayers, and little understood beyond the gates of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. First families move in and out—”They get a four- or eight-year lease,” says Gary Walters, former chief usher of the Executive Mansion. But the staff, customs, and mechanics surrounding the world’s most powerful chief executive endure, often for generations.

Walters knows this well. As a deputy manager and then manager of the most famous address in the U.S. for 31 years, from Gerald Ford to the second President Bush, Walters spanned six presidencies and crises both global and domestic until his retirement in 2007. He ran a house with a 90-member residence staff of butlers, maids, chefs, maître d’s, elevator operators, florists, curators, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. In some ways it was like running the world’s most exclusive hotel, except that Walters was in charge of a building with four major and often conflicting functions: home, office, grand museum, ultimate event site. Incredibly, the White House has welcomed up to 30,000 guests in a single week.

Walters, an Army veteran and a former officer in the old Executive Protective Service (now known as the Secret Service Uniformed Division), brought military precision and the utmost discretion to a job that was never 9 to 5. His worst times, he recalls, were when one first family moved out, typically around 10 a.m. on January 20, and the other moved in—by 4 p.m. the same day.

Walters’s goal was to have the departing family’s possessions out and the new socks in dresser drawers, personal furniture arranged, pictures hung, family photos displayed, favorite snacks in the kitchen—all in that six-hour time frame. There is no chance to get a head start, since the new President does not officially take office until January 20 at noon, two hours after his moving van pulls up under escort in the White House driveway as the outgoing President leaves for the Capitol. To make the deadline, Walters would deploy the entire 90-member staff at once, divided into teams with specific tasks. Months of planning included repeat verbal dry runs. (No such rehearsals took place before Richard Nixon’s early departure, however. Word went out that the First Lady had made a request through the usher’s office for packing boxes. “That’s how we knew,” said Betty C. Monkman, a former White House curator.)

Some transitions were especially rocky. Bill Clinton stayed in the Oval Office until 4 a.m. on January 20, 2001. “Then he had his desk that had to be cleaned out,” Walters recalls. He had to wait until the President went to bed before he could swoop in and help Clinton’s staff clear out the office to make way for George W. Bush.

But once things settle down, “the White House is first and foremost a family home,” Walters says. “It is the responsibility of the residence staff to change to the needs of every family, and not pigeonhole the family to the White House.”

To ensure such comfort, Walters would begin questioning the First-Lady-to-be after the election in November, as soon as the outgoing President had invited the new one to visit. What rooms would you like to use for your bedrooms? What time do you want to get up in the morning? What kind of toothpaste should be in the bathroom? What snacks would you prefer stocked in the pantry?

Bush 43 said pretzels, which got him into trouble in 2002, when he choked on one while watching a football game in his White House bedroom, lost consciousness, hit the floor, then came to, with only the presidential dogs as witnesses. Bush’s father requested easier to swallow Texas Blue Bell ice cream. He did not, however, request pork rinds, despite making a regular-guy show of nibbling them in public. “It was totally bogus,” Walters says. “He didn’t eat them.”

The second Bush also liked to keep a stainless steel water dish at the foot of the South Portico’s curved granite staircase, and Dale Haney, the superintendent of the White House grounds, could be seen moonlighting as the walker of the presidential terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley. Chelsea Clinton had her friends over for pizza in the State Dining Room. Susan Ford hosted her junior prom in the East Room. In the Reagan Administration, known publicly for its old Hollywood glamour, the President and First Lady liked their private, just-the-two-of-them dinners served on trays in front of the television.

So what’s for dinner? First Ladies and Presidents generally haven’t cooked at the White House, although they have a second-floor kitchen in the family quarters, separate from the main kitchen on the mansion’s ground level. The Clintons liked to use their kitchen for post-party glasses of champagne and raided its refrigerator for leftovers. But most families have simply selected a weekly menu from choices offered by the White House chef. State dinners, barbecues for Congress, and holiday receptions for the diplomatic corps are paid for by taxpayers, but the President is billed for all food consumed by his family and his personal guests. In the first months of a new administration, sticker shock is routine.

“I can’t remember anybody not complaining,” Walters says, recalling in particular Rosalynn Carter’s astonishment at the size of the bills. “Mrs. Carter came from Georgia. Things were a little cheaper there at the time. But let’s face it, you’ve got world-class chefs. The garnishes they put on foods, the way they dress them up, it’s like eating in a restaurant.”

Food comes from various Secret Service–approved commercial suppliers, but also from farmers markets and occasionally just the grocery store. Sometimes the White House chef will stop in at a local butcher on the way to work and pick up a last-minute chop for the President’s dinner. Wine, always American—the White House stopped serving French wine in the Ford Administration—comes directly from the wineries and includes offerings from Virginia and Idaho as well as California. (White House Francophile customs died hard: Mamie Eisenhower once had her favorite apple brown Betty listed on a state dinner menu as Betty Brune de Pommes.)

The first family pays its own dry cleaning bills, although the staff takes care of sending out the clothes to high-end establishments in town. The President’s shirts are done in-house, as are all the family’s sheets and towels. The President’s valet keeps his shoes shined and deals directly with the housekeepers to replace missing buttons. Presidents select their own suits from the closet each day, although staff members have been known to reject presidential ties as too busy for television. “I can’t think of any President who had somebody else pick out his clothes,” Walters says.

When the President leaves the White House, he travels within an enormous, ever secure bubble, whether seated in the armor-plated limousine referred to internally as “the Beast,” flying on Air Force One, or sleeping in one of the 600 to 800 hotel rooms required for each stop on a foreign trip.

The President’s road show includes a caravan of White House staff, State Department officials, Secret Service agents, communications technicians, crews for Air Force One and Marine One (the presidential helicopter), Department of Defense staff, and press. A big foreign trip typically includes up to 800 people, among them 30 White House staff members, more than a hundred members of the Secret Service, and some 150 representatives of the media—television and radio correspondents, camera crews, sound technicians, print journalists, wire service reporters, and still photographers.

The group is actually transported in two planes: Air Force One for the President, his staff, his Secret Service agents, and a small pool of reporters in the back; and the White House press charter, usually a United 747, for the rest of the media. (Reporters are rotated in and out of the 14 press seats on Air Force One, but on either plane, media organizations pay dearly for the seats, typically the price of first-class airfare or more.) The entourage is accompanied by cargo planes that transport the President’s limousine and a spare, plus sometimes Marine One, to each stop.

The nucleus of the bubble, referred to within the White House as “the package,” consists of the President, his senior staff, the Secret Service detail assigned specifically to him, and a small pool of reporters. The package essentially isolates the President from the rest of the bubble and the outside world. Inside the package life is serene; humming outside is the 24/7 infrastructure required to keep the peace.

The head of the road show in the Bush 43 Administration was Joe Hagin, former deputy chief of staff in charge of operations, who believes in striking a balance between protecting the President and allowing him some exposure in public. “You can’t lock him in a steel box and move him around,” Hagin says. “You have to get him out.”

Hagin would begin planning Bush’s foreign trips up to a year ahead. Every November or December, he’d sit down with the White House chief of staff and national security adviser to block out what usually amounted to five or six annual presidential trips overseas. Some were built-in, such as the yearly Group of Eight meeting of industrialized nations or the NATO summits, both must-attends for the American President. But others, like Bush’s trip to Africa in February 2008, were designed to highlight administration policies and to show the White House flag.

“My geography’s not good enough to do it without a map,” Hagin says. So with maps unfolded all over the conference table in the national security adviser’s office, and with the Air Force One pilots on hand to consult, the group would figure out what stops made geographic sense. There were all-important political considerations as well. Bush 43, who grew increasingly unpopular overseas as his administration progressed, often augmented his European trips with stops in former Soviet-bloc nations like Albania, where he could count on pro-democracy, pro-American crowds to cheer him on.

The White House Communications Agency, or WHCA, builds its own communication system for each destination, and on foreign trips the leader of the free world can push a button on the telephone in his hotel suite and be instantly connected to a direct-dial U.S. system. Bush hasn’t carried a personal cell phone for security reasons, but he had access to any number of them while traveling.

One cell is specifically for the presidential limousine, where there is never a problem with background noise. People who have been inside say that the limo is eerily serene, as if the outside world were on mute. The President can see the crowd, but he can’t hear it, especially not over the deep rumble of the Beast’s big V-8.

Air Force One is the President’s refuge. He can sleep in his cabin, a suite in the nose of the plane with a shower and two daybeds. Or he can work out; before Bush’s knees gave out and he abandoned running, he had a treadmill set up in the Air Force One office on foreign trips. The jet’s kitchen serves full dinners prepared by military stewards, but they are unlikely to win culinary or nutrition awards. Steak, chicken, and pork chops are normal fare. In June 2002, when Bush was on a trip to Florida to promote dietary and physical fitness, the Air Force One lunch menu, printed on gold-edged cards for all passengers, was corned beef sandwich, steak fries, and strawberry cheesecake.

As the President moves with ease from meeting to meeting, an intense choreography churns around him, all outlined in hundreds of pages of briefing books. “We can go to the other side of the world and land precisely to the minute,” Hagin says. “But you’ve got to know what you’re doing. These trips are not for the faint of heart.” Only experienced staff members go overseas, and they are expected to know where to stand, what to wear, how to address foreign dignitaries, and when, literally, to run.

In spite of the briefing books and the overall efficiency of Hagin and his team, travel foul-ups occasionally occur. In May 2005, only a malfunction in a live hand grenade, tossed into an ebullient crowd of tens of thousands in Tbilisi, Georgia, averted what could have been a lethal attack. In 2004, Bush waded on his own into a group of security agents to pull a Secret Service agent out of a shoving match with the Chilean police. In 2002, the Beast came to such a sudden stop en route to lunch in Beijing with then President Jiang Zemin of China that the wire services reported a blowout, conjuring images of Secret Service agents rummaging through the trunk for a jack. The problem was in fact mechanical, and the President was moved to the spare limo within moments.

Not surprisingly, the President, like everyone else, is happy to get home. Although Ronald Reagan said he often felt captive in the fishbowl of the White House, many other Presidents and their families have loved it there.

And why not? There is, after all, a recently refurbished movie theater, suitable for viewing major Hollywood films sent overnight from the studios. (In the past couple years Bush saw The Kite Runner and The Perfect Game.) There is a swimming pool, the same one where Gerald Ford spoke to the press in his bathing suit. There is a tennis court, too, and the Children’s Garden, a shady spot created by Lady Bird Johnson, its walkway lined with bronzed handprints and footprints of presidential grandchildren.

Most of all, there is a sense of home and history, coupled with the knowledge that a first family, however well cared for and fed, can only pass through. Or as one of the permanent household staff gently reminded Barbara Bush during her time as First Lady: “Presidents come and go. Butlers stay.”


Security Expert: Former Secret Service Agent, Presidential Protection


On too many occasions, corporate (commercial), residential and private estate security and security systems undergo complacency and/or neglect with corporate security managers, estate and property managers assuming that all conditions are good to go. They many times lack response time capability and a Safe Room. However, like most modern, service oriented industries, technology advances and conditions change.

Advances in the interpretation of current security needs negates the antiquated notion of achieving the so called “SECURE AND COMFORT LEVEL” by simply installing a “basic” security system.

In many instances, prominent individuals and celebrities have been hurt (i.e., George Harrison, Meg Ryan, etc.) because they had a “security system”, however, the overall system response did not act as a intrusion detection system, did not provide the critical “advance warning” and, also did not include a “safe room” or “security zone”.

The security system is “only as good as the client’s ability to remove him or herself from harm’s way”. A simple intrusion detection system in itself is “NOT ENOUGH” to provide adequate protection. A security system should be MULTI-LAYERED and should include a RESPONSE MECHANISM to the threat or intrusion to be effective.

Periodic assessments of security systems and current threats and vulnerabilities not only help maintain the appropriate and acceptable level security environment, but also strives to maintain security counter-measures at the required response levels, ensuring a safe and secure environment for the client and family.

For additional information and or free initial consultation, please contact: Joe LaSorsa at J.A. LaSorsa & Associates, Tel: 954-783-5020 (USA) or e-mail: jal@lasorsa.com or visit our website: www.lasorsa.com

J.A. LaSorsa & Associates provides Confidential Private Investigator Services to insurance companies, businesses, financial institutions, andprivate citizens. Our team of highly experienced private investigators can provide law firms of any size with the Litigation Support Resources necessary to secure the evidence they need for any case. We provide both domestic andinternational services, to include: Antigua, Anguilla, Aruba, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Dominica, St. John, St. Thomas, St. Croix, Grenada, Montserrat, Netherland Antilles, Nevis, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Turks & Caicos and Trinidad & Tobago, Bermuda, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, New York, Los Angeles, U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Trinidad, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Belize, Mexico, El Salvador,Venezuela and South America, Europe, Italy, Rome, Milan, Paris, Geneva, Zurich, Asia, China, the Far East, India, etc.


Excerpted from: ERRI DAILY INTELLIGENCE REPORT-ERRI Risk Assessment Services-Saturday, December 12, 1998-Vol. 4, No. 346


By Steve Macko, ERRI Risk Analyst

WASHINGTON (EmergencyNet News) – In what is being described as a massive three-way security operation will surround POTUS (President of the United States) when he meets Israelis and Palestinians on his venture into the traditional lion’s den of Middle Eastern violence this weekend. On the eve of the three-day visit to Israel, White House officials kept a tight lid on the plans for protecting the President from the suicide squads, car bombs and assassins who have bloodied the region’s history for decades.

National Security Council spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “Every trip has security challenges, and the president will have the security he needs.” But with tensions high in Israel over the faltering peace process and POTUS a potential target for both Jewish and Palestinian extremists, security experts said precautions would be at least as tight and elaborate as on any previous trip anywhere.

Joe LaSorsa, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Secret Service, who now runs an executive protection service in New York State, said, “You’re talking about being in the heartland of terrorism. We’ve experienced so many previous threats and incidents in the region is that you’re always at a heightened sense of awareness.”

Two Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank on Friday during violent protests. About 50 protesters were wounded, two seriously, in the clashes near the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya during Palestinian riots over Israel’s handling of the release of Palestinian prisoners under the Wye River peace deal.

The deaths brought to four the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this week in widespread disturbances in the West Bank. More than 200 have been injured. Both of the male youths who were killed on Friday were 18-year-old. One Palestinian doctor said, “They were shot in the head with live ammunition.”

Three Israeli soldiers were slightly injured by stones thrown at them. One witness said demonstrators had held a sit-in following Friday Muslim prayers, then proceeded to an Israeli checkpoint near the 1967 border between Israel and the West Bank where they clashed with the soldiers.

ERRI senior analyst Clark Staten reiterated warnings that he has voiced all week. Staten said in a statement disseminated to U.S. military intelligence services: “Although we are sure that appropriate protective measures are being taken, possible retaliation for these two shootings only reinforces our concerns about security during the POTUS trip to this region. Add to this a “threat statement,” published in Al-Hayat by Egyptian Jihad, within the past 24 hours. At the very least, the OPFOR (those opposed to Wye or Oslo) could pick the coming days as a time for a peripheral terror act, which would generate major publicity. Great caution and preparedness is urged at this time.”

The Egyptian Jihad “threat statement” Staten was referring to was published in the Arabic-language Al-Hayat newspaper on Friday. Egypt’s banned Jihad threatened a prolonged war against the United States, which it accuses of being an enemy of Islam, and said the most potent weapon in the hands of Moslems was an economic boycott.

The Jihad statement said: “Let the Americans know that we have resolved to fight them in a severe and long, drawn-out battle to be passed on to generations.” The terrorist group is led by Ayman el-Zawahri, a close ally to Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden.

The statement urged Moslems to boycott the United States which it said was “the biggest enemy aiming to undermine Islam.” It also said: “The most dangerous weapon in the hands of the Moslem community is an economic boycott.”

The United States is sending several batteries of Patriot missiles, which take out incoming missiles, during the visit as a partly-symbolic gesture to ward off attacks from other regional states, including hostile Iraq, during the visit.

In Jerusalem, National Police Commander Yehuda Wilk said although police had received no specific warnings of attacks, “the working supposition is that there will be an attempt to carry out a terror attack in order to upset the event.” He told reporters the huge media coverage would give added incentive for an attack by militants who have killed scores in bombings in Israel in recent years.

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian police and other paramilitary groups are engaged in a web of protection centering on the President and his own close guard of U.S. Secret Service agents. Most of Clinton’s travel outside of Jerusalem will be done by helicopter, including visits to Gaza and Bethlehem, with security forces alert to the possibility of missiles.

Gaza is seen as a playground for violent anti-American groups. They range from Iranian-backed groups in Lebanon and elsewhere, Kurdish separatists, Islamic fundamentalists in Egypt and Afghanistan-based Osama bin Laden. Palestinian and Israeli officials say there has been close cooperation with the U.S. Secret Service in setting up a protective web around the President.

LaSorsa said there would be a thoroughly professional, close cooperation between the three. He said, “It’s a hand-in-glove relationship — even with the KGB. There’s a very close-knit brotherhood between security agents.”

There are no plans of a POTUS meet-the-people outing on his visit. 500 police will be on duty round-the-clock at the Jerusalem Hilton hotel, where he will stay. Israeli police say that they have taken into account the recent surge in West Bank violence in drawing up their plans. At least 10,000 police will be deployed around Israel for the President’s visit — 3,500 in Jerusalem.

After spending Sunday in Jerusalem, POTUS will spend Monday in Gaza. There remains considerable support among the strip’s more than one million residents for the militant terrorist group HAMAS. The No. 1 HAMAS militant on Israel’s wanted list, Mohammad Deif, remains at large and is believed to be hiding in Gaza.

On Friday, a leaflet in the name of HAMAS vowed to bomb Israeli targets if the Palestinian Authority did not release the movement’s spiritual leader from house arrest by Christmas Day. The statement, sent to an, international news agency, also ridiculed the visit of POTUS to Gaza, saying: “The Palestinian Authority claims that Clinton’s visit reinforces Palestinian sovereignty, but this is a mere illusion. We condemn and reject this visit and consider it … a visit with ulterior motives that aims to dash real Palestinian hopes.”

A top HAMAS terrorist who asked not to be named confirmed the statement was genuine. The leaflet called POTUS “the enemy of the Arabs and Muslims.” The HAMAS statement was meant to put pressure on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to release HAMAS founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin from house arrest.

Yassin was placed under house arrest on 29 October after a suicide bomb attack against Israeli children. The HAMAS leaflet said: “We give the leadership of the Palestinian Authority until December 25 to lift the house arrest on our leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin or else the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam brigades will be free to commit any new bombing attacks against the Zionist entity and their forces.” Izz el-Deen al-Qassam is the military wing of HAMAS.

The high-pitched voiced, 62-year-old, bearded Yassin is an icon for Muslim militant suicide bombers who have killed scores of Israelis since the first interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deal was signed in 1993.

(c) Copyright, EmergencyNet NEWS Service, 1998. All Rights Reserved. Redistribution without permission is prohibited by law.

The ERRI DAILY INTELLIGENCE REPORT is a subscription publication of the EmergencyNet NEWS Service, which is a subsidiary of the Chicago-based Emergency Response and Research Institute. This publication specializes in Corporate Security/ Terrorism/Intelligence/Military and National Security issues.

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Estate and Mega-Yacht Security Systems and Safe Rooms

Security Expert: Former Secret Service Agent, Presidential Protection

Estate and Mega-Yacht Security Systems and Safe Rooms
Why do I need a “safe room? I really don’t need one; I’m not that high profile”. This is typical V.I.P. client frame of reference or attitude concerning security systems and safe rooms.

What most clients don’t realize is “being high profile” has a definite impact on vulnerabilities, however, not being high profile does not mitigate the vulnerabilities and overall exposure caused by their “lifestyles” and “net worth”.

Firstly, security systems are usually designed and installed by security system companies. The salesperson of the vending company is primarily interested in selling the highest dollar components and system. The viability of the system is usually important but not usually paramount to their operational concerns. The clients usually are persuaded to purchase the “high end” version of systems and usually get very good systems.

Secondly, what they do not realize is they would have benefited immensely from the use of the services of a quality security consultant, who would have been savvy of security system requirements and the needs specific needs of the client.

The experienced security consultant can save the client thousands of dollars in unnecessary expense on hardware and re-direct hardware expenses in the direction of need and viability. This having been said, there are other issues that are unknown to the clients. In addition, these other issues are also not first and foremost in the minds and focus of many security system vendors.

One of these issues is the concept of security system redundant layering. The most effective systems are layered with detection device systems after detection device systems, all integrated into one intrusion detection system. Not to get into too much technical detail, the idea or concept is to set up mantraps and detection device systems that will back each other up and eventually detect and catch the intruder.

The typical estate or residence burglary scenario: an intruder gains access to your residence or estate, the police typically do not respond quick enough to prevent an intruder from coming face to face with an occupant. The result is an unwanted tragic event will usually occur.

Another issue is the concept of the “safe room”. Most clients do not realize and most vendors do not stress the value of the “safe room” We are not talking about the Jodie Foster movie, the “Panic Room” We are not alluding that all estates and mega-yachts need internal, concrete and steel fortified sanctuaries. Far from that. Safe rooms do not have to be these ultra, internal fortresses. ‘Safe Rooms’ can be designed and constructed at various levels of security. They can be minimally reinforced and impregnated with ballistic materials. They can also be designed to achieve the highest levels of security, where the room is totally protected from exterior access and is constructed with steel reinforcements, ballistic materials and a door constructed by a “vault” manufacturer. This highest level of protection is routinely equipped with a separate AC system, security CCTV monitors, survival supplies, oxygen and a back up communications systems.

Essentially, the primary focus of a viable and efficient Security Intrusion Detection System (alarm system) should be to warn and provide occupants of your estate, mega-yacht or home with sufficient time to access a ‘safe room’ and avoid confrontation with an intruder. True, although many people simply regard an alarm system as a deterrent, it should be also, at the same time, a warning system, allowing you and your loved ones ample time to access your ‘safe room’. In order to facilitate a safe outcome, it is vital to ensure quick and easy access to a safe location (‘safe room’) and to remain secure until the police or security detail respond.

The bottom line – police response time and access to your ‘safe room’ play critical roles in determining a positive outcome during a break-in or intrusion.

Proper planning and the use of a highly qualified security consultant will provide clients with the optimum result and more than likely, save hem unwarranted expense. The consultant can work closely with the client’s architect or builder to review preliminary designs in order to pro-actively implement design changes and modifications before construction or renovations are initiated. This involvement routinely ensures the implementation of the appropriate technical and physical security countermeasures.

In conclusion, the client should wind up enjoying the safety and security of a viable intrusion detection system incorporated with the added feature of the safe room.

Mr. LaSorsa manages J.A. LaSorsa & Associates, a South Florida based security consultancy and investigative firm. He provides: asset and executive protection, corporate security consulting, expert testimony as it relates to premises liability & security negligence; anti-wiretapping, safe rooms & security systems consulting, event and tour security & investigations; workplace & school violence intervention, threat & vulnerability assessments.

Joe has over twenty-nine years of experience in the security field, which includes a twenty-year career as a Senior Special Agent with the United States Secret Service, Presidential Protection Division, the White House and extensive senior management private sector experience. Contact info: Telephone # 954-783-5020 or e-mail: jal@lasorsa.com or by visiting: https://www.lasorsa.com/

Gun sales surge as uncertainties stoke fears

Gun sales surge as uncertainties stoke fears
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 01, 2008
DELRAY BEACH — Consumers may be cutting back on going out to eat and buying new clothes, but at the Delray Shooting Center off Linton Boulevard, guns remain good as gold.
“Business has gone up dramatically in the past year – the last couple months especially,” owner Mike Caruso said. “I’m selling 15 guns a day. … Let’s just say business has been rocking.”

Although Florida does not keep records of gun sales, federal data show background checks needed to purchase a firearm are up sharply in the first nine months of this year. In Florida, concealed weapon permit applications in September jumped 52 percent compared with September 2007.
And it’s not just any gun. Handguns and semiautomatic weapons, not hunting rifles, appear to be leading the way.
The reasons: a sour economy that some fear will increase crime, and worries about gun regulations if Sen. Barack Obama wins the White House.
“There are so many uncertainties right now in the country,” said Susan Lipschultz, co-owner of Liberty Guns Inc. in West Palm Beach. “It’s the economy, the politics, the concern of an anti-gun Congress and president.”
Jeff Lovering, 52, was at the Self Defense Shooting Center in Port St. Lucie on a recent morning, having bought his first gun three months ago.
“I figured I better buy it now,” Lovering said of his .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun. “Obama – he’s up there in the polls. He’s looking like he might win.”
Gun sales are up about 10 percent this year, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which analyzed federal excise taxes on firearms sales and the number of checks that went through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
In Florida, there were 405,738 such FBI checks in the first nine months of the year, a 30 percent hike. While those checks don’t always translate into gun sales, it’s one of the best indicators available, said Kristen Perezluha, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Further, 22,249 Floridians applied for a concealed weapon permit in September, a 52 percent increase from September 2007, according to the Division of Licensing in the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“You look at September last year and September this year, and it’s pretty amazing,” said Connie Crawford, division director.
The recent Florida Gun & Knife Show at the South Florida Fairgrounds reflects the trend. According to an employee, sales of ammunition were up about 20 percent, while handgun sales were up 11 percent.
Handguns and semiautomatic weapons in particular are flying off shelves.
Gunmaker Smith & Wesson, in its latest quarterly report, revealed similar trends: Specialty rifles and shotguns in the hunting division fell, while sales of other products rose.
Similarly, Lipschultz said the economy has forced some recreational hunters and shooters to cut down on buying new guns, but sales of handguns are up.
And Joe Fordham, owner of Palm Beach Trap & Skeet Pro Shop in Wellington, said he fields daily calls about where to buy handguns, which his store does not carry.
Economy down, crimes up
People often buy guns during periods of uncertainty, said Gary Kleck, a professor at Florida State University’s College of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
Lovering, for instance, may have purchased his first handgun in advance of the presidential election, but he plans to teach his 21-year-old daughter to shoot it as a means of self-defense.
“We’re facing an economic crisis, and there’s this background assumption that crime will go up,” which may lead people to buy more guns for personal safety, Kleck said.
While the economy may or may not be a contributing factor, certain crimes are up in Palm Beach County.
After two straight years of decline, robberies and larcenies in the county grew last year by 3 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Statewide, property crimes are up by more than 3 percent in the first six months of this year.
At the Delray Shooting Center, “we lost a portion of our client base because the economy is weaker, but we gained some in our firearms for the exact same reason,” said Caruso, who gets 50 to 60 people each week in his concealed weapon classes.
“Our economy’s garbage,” summed up Jacob, a West Palm Beach resident shopping at Liberty Guns on Monday. Jacob declined to give his last name for fear of being burglarized and having his guns stolen: “Robberies could occur because of desperate people.”
‘Don’t Believe Obama!’
Politics is another concern. WhileObama has said he supports the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, he also favors tighter state restrictions.
“He’s not exactly friendly to gun rights, to say the least,” Lipschultz said.
A poster reading, “On the Second Amendment, Don’t Believe Obama!” is taped to the counter in her store.
Lipschultz is not a huge fan of Republican presidential nominee John McCain’s stance on gun control either, but his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, really “understands the importance of the Second Amendment,” she said.
Nelson Waite, owner of Gator Guns & Archery Center in West Palm Beach, also reports sales are up because of concerns about Obama’s gun policies.
“Every time we get an anti-gun president, people get nervous and start buying guns,” Waite said, adding that people worry about the impact of a shifting political climate.
Florida State University’s Kleck has seen it before.
“During the Clinton administration in 1993, when it became clear they were likely to pass an assault weapons ban, gun sales went up tremendously,” Kleck said. “Most guns people bought had nothing to do with the ban, but people didn’t know it at the time.”
At Gator Guns & Archery, Waite said, “When (Bill) Clinton got ready to go into office, gun sales just quadrupled at my store.”
Joe Rice, manager at Delray Shooting Center, said he is not panicked about the possibility of Obama’s becoming president, but he is preparing.
When the Clinton-backed 1994 Semi-Auto Gun Ban went into effect, the price of certain semiautomatic guns skyrocketed.
“All Clinton’s crime bill did was create a commodity,” Rice said. “It turned a $700 rifle into a $3,400 rifle.”
So Rice has stocked up on weapons such as the AK-47 assault rifle and the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle – two firearms he believes would be subject to new regulations.
If that happens, he said, “the prices will go up, and I’ll quadruple my cash.”

Secret Service Protection – Barack Obama

Queen Elizabeth II Feted in Jamestown; Cardinals Pitcher Drunk at Time of Fatal Crash; U.S.,
Iranian Representatives Miss Each Other at Summit; GOP Candidates Face off in First Debate
Aired May 4, 2007 – 13:00 ET
LEMON: All right, it’s no secret. Secret service agents are a new and visible presence around Barack Obama. Now here he is in New York today at a fundraiser. He was at the Metropolitan Club. An agency spokesman says he isn’t aware of threats against the Democratic presidential hopeful, but fellow Senator Dick Durbin says disturbing information of a racial bent triggered yesterday’s action by the Department of Homeland Security. Joining us now from Miami, a former secret service agent, Joseph Lasorsa. Talk to me about this. They said there was no threat that they could think of. There was some chatter on the internet, possibly, maybe among hate groups, some hate mail sent to his campaign. What distinguishes a threat or someone just on a blog, you know, writing something nasty? What makes a threat a threat in that respect?

JOSEPH LASORSA, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well, essentially any type statement indicating an intent to inflict physical harm or a plan to disrupt or create a situation that could inflict some physical harm.

LEMON: So that’s what — we’re not, again, not sure if there was a threat but they did say that there was chatter and that type of thing. Having chatter of this sort of bent — especially of a racial bent, unusual in a campaign? I would imagine it may have happened when Jesse Jackson ran back in the ’80s.

LASORSA: Probably did as well, yes.

LEMON: He was protected early on as well. Talk to me about that.

LASORSA: His protection began a lot earlier than usual, but, again, it’s not unusual to establish protective coverage if there’s any heightened level of threats being articulated.

LEMON: You served with several administrations, I would like to know how, now, might the candidates, Barack Obama’s life change, the security detail around him. The number of people around him coming and going. I’m sure it will make it a little bit more difficult. How might his life change now.

LASORSA: Essentially it’s going to make it a little less private, but on the other side, it’s going to probably lend towards some — some additional smoother logistics in planning. LEMON: How many people are we talking about around him?

LASORSA: There’s usually a standard detail that they apply in presidential candidates. Specific numbers, they could vary. But I wouldn’t be able to get into the specific numbers on it.

LEMON: All right, well we thank you for joining us and helping us to clarify some of this information.

LASORSA: No problem Don, my pleasure.

LEMON: Have a great day, thank you.

LASORSA: You too, take care.

Unarmed Security – Either arm us all or take the gun from the village idiot

Unarmed Security
Either arm us all or take the gun from the village idiot

Posted: Monday, May 26, 2008
Updated: May 25th, 2008 09:27 PM PDT

Most Read Most E-mailed E-mail Article Print Article

Security Strategies Contributor

True Story #1
A friend of mine is a security director for a large institution that serves a special population in a metropolitan area of Ohio. He started his protective services career nearly 40 years ago as a young military policeman in Vietnam. Since that time he has developed his security career to include obtaining numerous Director positions within the private security sector, mostly at vast hospital complexes. He is truly a professional. Nobody knows more about protecting people in his venue then he does.

Over the period of several years in his current position, he noticed several lapses in his organizations security posture. He drafted a plan of action, documented it, and approached his boss, who was the VP of Facilities, while seeking the approval to fix those issues. Of the recommendations offered by my friend, some of them were in the category of either pay now or really, really, pay later. The VP of facilities is an expert at planning for HVAC installation and roofing repairs, but clueless about the dynamics affecting the health, welfare and safety of human beings. Regardless, someone in authority still appointed the facilities VP to be in-charge over the security director as the division leader. In the end, when the security director made his boss aware of glaring security problems, what do you think the VP did? If you guessed Nothing, you were right.

Months later, disaster struck when a deranged criminal entered the facility, took advantage of the security lapses and committed an untold number of felonious crimes against persons. As a result, the institution was nearly shut down and thousands of people would have been negatively affected, from employees losing their jobs to patients not receiving medical services they needed. It was a close call. The doors almost closed due to facing a potential loss of accreditation.

True Story #2
Three weeks ago, my wife gave birth to our son. After spending 4 days and nights at the Akron General Medical Center I knew my way around the hospital pretty well. In my travels, I noticed their security staff and was duly impressed. Their uniforms looked good, shoes polished, and whenever I approached them, they would always initiate the conversation by saying, “Sir, can I help you?” It was obvious to me that they had mastered the public relations skill set of being an ambassador of their organization. However, I also noticed something else. None of the officers possessed firearms.

Given the current status of the world that we live in, it is absolutely inexcusable that security officers tasked with protecting staff, patients, visitors, and property are unarmed. When any homicidal/suicidal maniac, not to mention desperate dope addict, could wander into an emergency room with a .22 caliber handgun they purchased on the street for $80 and force a violent encounter, how come security can’t at least have the minimum capacity to immediately counter a deadly force threat?
Here are the Top 5 faulty reasons that I have found over the years for the administrative position of not arming security officers:

1. “We don’t need them here”. That’s like saying Kansas does not need tornado shelters, because they do not have tornados. The organizational administrators that I have met who have made this ridiculous statement just do not live in reality. Either watch TV, choose to believe what you read the newspaper, or better yet, listen to the person you hired to be your security director and let the trained professional who knows how to save lives make the correct strategic decision. If you don’t trust their judgment, don’t hire them.

2. “Visitors and patrons might feel intimidated if an officer is armed”. I don’t know about you, but I have never been intimidated by a police or security officer carrying a firearm. Why? Because I am not the criminal. Wake up! We live in the USA! There are more guns here per capita then coffee beans in Africa! Oh, and by the way, security officers do not have to carry firearms visibly if you are really that image sensitive. Just ask the security operatives for Israeli El-Al Airlines. Chances are the flight attendant handing you your pop and pretzels on that overseas flight is also highly skilled in Krav Maga and packing a pistol. Maybe that’s a reason why their aircraft has never been successfully hijacked.

3. “The crime rate around here isn’t bad”, or “It’s never happened here before”. Both of these living in a dream-world statements go hand-in-hand. Generally, workplace shooting incidents don’t happen more than once at the same location. It’s usually a “there’s a first time for everything” type event. Victims and witnesses all say the same thing after the carnage stops, “I never thought something like this could happen here”. Think again, we live in a dangerous world.

4. “Our local police response is about 3 to 4 minutes”. How many times can you pull a trigger in that time span? History tragically reminds us that each trigger pull can represent a human life being lost while waiting for law enforcement to arrive.

5. “By arming officers we are implying it is dangerous to be here”. An attorney said this to me once. You don’t want this lawyer representing you. Fundamentally, common law stipulates that even if you do not have security at all, you still have a duty – to some extent – to protect or else risk negligence charges. When I can prove to a jury that hospitals, colleges, universities, shopping malls, etc attract criminals just as easily as they attract law abiding citizens, and you have done nothing to ensure an appropriate, or reasonable, level of protection then your bank account is wide open for civil litigation. It’s actually pretty easy for me to detail to a jury that you should have known, not because I am that good or highly experienced. I don’t have to be. The world is just that bad and getting worse. I just have to paint the picture using visions they understand.

In closing, please keep my email address handy and feel free to notify me if you or an attorney you know needs an expert witness to testify on behalf of the plaintiff in a case where security was not properly trained or equipped. I say this not because I am greedy and seek to contribute to our overly litigious society, but because I am tired of the wrong people being placed in-charge of security functions making bad decisions. Apparently the only way to get them to change is to get them to pay. Nothing captures an administrator’s attention more than losing a couple million dollars. I will be happy to make that happen.

Keith R. Lavery, M.A., is a full-time criminal justice educator teaching secondary education and having taught law enforcement, criminal justice and security courses at the post-secondary level. Keith had a very diverse police career for over 17 years, working in urban and rural law enforcement settings with assignments ranging from patrol to specialized functions, and to stay current in the field, works part-time as a patrol officer in Northeastern Ohio. Keith is currently the Law Enforcement Liaison for the Cleveland, Ohio, Chapter of ASIS International.

Would-be assassin released from Maryland prison

By DAVID DISHNEAU and BEN NUCKOLS Associated Press Writers

HAGERSTOWN – In the nine years before Arthur Bremer shot George Wallace, assassins killed a U.S. president, a presidential contender and the nation’s leading civil rights activist. In the 35 years since, attempts on two presidents’ lives have failed.

As Bremer was released Friday from prison after serving two-thirds of his 53-year sentence, a former Secret Service agent said the attack on the Alabama governor during a presidential campaign stop in Laurel, Md., prompted lifesaving changes in security strategies.

“Every attempt triggers the implementation of additional countermeasures,” said Joseph A. LaSorsa, who retired in 1996 and runs a security firm in Pompano Beach, Fla.

Bremer, 57, left the Maryland Correctional Institution near Hagerstown before dawn Friday after serving 35 years for attempted murder. He didn’t speak to reporters and doesn’t want to, state prison officials said.

“He’s kept a decidedly low profile,” state Parole Commission Chairman David R. Blumberg said. “He’s turned down all requests for notoriety and interviews, including some that had money attached to them.”

Bremer earned his mandatory release through good behavior and by working in prison.

The Division of Parole and Probation will supervise him until his sentence ends in 2025, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said.

The agency didn’t say where in the state Bremer has gone to live, except that it wasn’t in Washington County, where the prison is located. Privacy will allow Bremer “to become acclimated to today’s world at his own pace and with as much anonymity as possible,” an agency statement read.

Under the conditions of his release, Bremer must stay away from elected officials and candidates. He must undergo a mental health evaluation and receive treatment if the state deems it necessary, and he can’t leave Maryland without written permission from the parole commission. The conditions also require Bremer to submit to electronic monitoring.

Wallace and three others were wounded May 15, 1972, in the shooting outside a busy shopping center.

Bremer, then 21, grew up in Milwaukee during an era of remarkable violence against national public figures. President Kennedy’s murder in 1963 was followed by the assassinations in 1968 of the Rev. Martin Luther King and, two months later, Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

Bremer likened himself in his diary to President Lincoln’s killer, John Wilkes Booth.

LaSorsa said armored vehicles were put into use for presidential motorcades after President Kennedy’s assassination. He said the Secret Service started offering protection to presidential candidates after Robert Kennedy was slain. Since the Bremer attack, agents have scouted campaign stops much more thoroughly before candidates arrive.

“Protection today is much more proactive than it ever has been,” LaSorsa said.

Nick J. Zarvos, who was shot in the neck as a member of Wallace’s Secret Service detail, said audiences at today’s political events are often screened by metal detectors – something unheard of in 1972.

“You just try to stay ahead of the game,” he said.

Today, many candidates eschew appearances in wide-open areas such as mall parking lots, and limit interaction with ordinary voters. Rudy Giuliani travels with a private security, and his crew has been known to whisk him away quickly from events.

Secret Service details travel with Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, but other candidates say that level of protection would cramp their style.

“I’ve never done it. After we won New Hampshire in 2000, they really tried to get us, but we said no,” John McCain said Friday in Concord, N.H. “It’s an invasion of your ability to have contact with voters.”

Security consultant Ned Timmons, a former FBI agent in Walled Lake, Mich., said the assassination attempts and, more recently, school shootings, have made citizens more willing to tell police about threat signals – and officers more eager to act on them. Treating dangerous behavior early may prevent assassination attempts, he said.

“I think that if a person has a tendency to rely on deadly force or think about deadly force, if that’s not treated, it could escalate,” Timmons said.

Modern electronics enable authorities to eavesdrop on suspects’ conversations more easily than in the 1960s, Timmons said.

Bremer case quick facts

·Arthur Bremer was not paroled. In fact, the Maryland Parole Commission denied him parole 10 years ago.

· The Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) did not “let Bremer out early.” Bremer is getting out now because of state law that allows inmates to earn credits to shorten their time spent behind bars. This is state law, not DPSCS policy.

· These credits are awarded for work assignments, educational programming and special projects, in addition to good conduct. Bremer’s work and behavior in prison earned him many such credits.

· Those released from sentences affected by credits are mandatory releasees, because, by law, they must be freed from prison.

· Mandatory releasees like Bremer are required to be under the supervision of Parole and Probation agents until the end of their original sentences. In Bremer’s case, his entire 53-year sentence expires in 2025, meaning he will be required to report to his agent regularly until 2025. If he violates this, or any special condition of his release, he is subject to arrest and reincarceration.

Source: Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services

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