By Boyd Brown III
This September, I had the great pleasure of traveling with three of our Criminal Justice Management (CJM) students to Orlando, Florida. The purpose of the trip was to attend the annual ASIS International Security Seminar and Conference. Carmen Garcia, Megan Faulkner, and Mike Cutrer were all recipients of the Dunbar Securities scholarship, which is awarded each year to deserving CJM students. As a part of their accomplishment, the Dunbar scholarship pays for the students to attend the seminar.
The ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security) seminar is part trade show and part professional conference. While there, attendees get to see some of the most cutting edge security technology available on the market today, from key cards and biometric door locks, to sophisticated body armor, camera systems, and security barriers. At the same time, unmatched educational sessions are held throughout. These sessions run the gamut of security related topics from loss prevention and retail security to cyber-warfare and homeland security.
Each day, there is also a keynote speaker. This year’s speakers included:
Jeh Johnson: Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Ted Koppel: Former ABC news anchor and host of Dateline, and author of Lights Out
Elliot Abrams: Senior Fellow of Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; Former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs under President Reagan; and Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and International Operations at the National Security Council
For the students, there were multiple networking opportunities. For example, on Wednesday, 11 current and former security and law enforcement professionals, from agencies such as the Federal Marshals service, the DEA, FBI, and NYPD spent over two hours with our students, offering career advice and encouragement.
Not to say that the trip was all business and no pleasure. We attended two events at Universal Studios in Orlando. On Monday it was the President’s reception — the entire Universal Studios side of the park was reserved for us.
And then on Tuesday, we returned to Universal to attend an event hosted by Tyco Securities at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville restaurant.
When we were at the seminar, the students were hosted by two Dunbar Securities representatives: Senior Vice President Mike Doyle and Vice-President for Government and Industry Affairs, Pat Gibbons. Mike has been with Dunbar Securities his whole career, starting off as a Driver/Guard, while Pat worked as a Maryland State Trooper before taking a job with the FBI, from which he retired after more than 20 years of service. On Wednesday, Mike and Patrick took the students to a nearby Dunbar Securities facility to give them an inside look at how the armored car industry works.
While we were at there, we learned that the Pulse Nightclub, scene of the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in U.S. history on June 12, 2016, is just two blocks from the Dunbar facility. After we completed our tour of the facility, we decided we should visit the site.
There are certain places that, when you visit them, there is palpable sense of sorrow that surrounds them, and the Pulse nightclub is such a place. Like Ground Zero in the wake of the September 11th attacks, the fence around the club has become the site of an impromptu memorial, with signs that indicate items will be collected and archived at the local historical society.
The visit to Pulse reminded us all that, while we were there for a conference, the ultimate goal of everything we had seen on the conference hall floor was to make our lives safer and prevent events like this one from happening. I won’t pretend to speak for the students, but I can say that, personally, the 15 minutes we spent outside Pulse were the most impactful of the entire trip.
With our thoughts on the events that shattered an otherwise perfect summer evening in Florida fresh in our minds, we headed to our final dinner with Patrick and Mike. The next morning, we would all head our separate ways. Mike and Patrick would return to Dunbar’s headquarters in Baltimore, while Mike, Carmen, Meghan, and I would board our plane bound for home, me with my head full of information and ideas to share with my classes and my students – hopefully – with information and contacts that will help them transition into their professional careers.