THE MAGAZINE

The Mark Center Makes Its Mark

By Matthew Harwood

Secure Envelopes

On one of my visits, Girard and I stood on the glass-enclosed pedestrian bridge that connects the visitor’s parking garage to the security checkpoint. Girard looked at one of the guard booths processing employees as they drove onto the secure campus. Off to my left stood a police officer, watching the pedestrian bridge as tenants and visitors walked toward the first “envelope of security,” as Girard called it.

As the gate arm went up, the car slowly rolled down a narrow lane toward an employee parking garage. “If there [were] some problem at the gate, officers [could] activate those barriers and prevent anyone from getting onto the campus,” said Girard of the K12-rated active vehicle barriers lying dormant at ground level between the guard booth and the parking garage. He also pointed out that the landscape is designed to work in conjunction with bollards that line the building perimeter to prevent any vehicle from getting too close and delivering an explosive payload.

Hundreds of IP cameras help PFPA maintain visual surveillance of the guard platform and the compound’s outside grounds. These feed into the Mark Center’s Security Operations Center (SOC), where operators watching computer screens and mounted flat-screen TVs for threats and alarms have the ability to radio the closest armed private security guard or Pentagon Police officer if necessary.

At the end of the pedestrian bridge, tenants are greeted by a bank of full-height turnstiles that control access to the secure campus beyond. Each employee presents the DoD Common Access Card (CAC) to a contactless reader. Visitors, however, must enter the visitor control center to register, receive a time-controlled badge, walk through a metal detector, and have their bags x-rayed before entering the secure campus.

“The visitor cards are time-controlled,” explained Girard. “They are business hours only, so if you spirit one away, you can’t use it at night.”

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