THE MAGAZINE

Rise of the Anti-Ram Vehicle Barrier

By Sonny Sharmin, CPP

Vulnerability Assessment

The first step to a protection perimeter plan is conducting a thorough vulnerability study. The study should identify and take into account the assets protected, the value of the assets, the intended target, the threat and its potential capabilities and limitations. The study should consider the probability and consequences of an attack, including loss of human life.

Site Security Survey: A vulnerability assessment should begin with a security survey. The survey must include the description of the target location, surrounding structures, roads and intersections, landscaping, existing property boundaries, and limitations. Based on the security survey, the required distance between the perimeter and the target can be determined. The size of the stand-off distance is critical, especially in urban areas where real estate is at a premium. Roadways are generally designed as a straight throughway to minimize travel time and maximize convenience and safety, not building security.

While it is desirable to establish maximum stand-off distance from the target, it may not be easily achievable. For areas where significant stand-off distance from the target is not practical, street alignments--including traffic calming strategies—should be considered. These may include planters; concrete highway medians, or “jerseys”; speed humps; berms; high curbs; or any other aesthetically pleasing obstacle to slow down an approaching threat.

The most critical factor to consider when analyzing a threat from a moving vehicle is the kinetic energy. In simple terms, the kinetic energy is the weight of the vehicle as well as the speed that must be absorbed to stop the threat from reaching the target. It’s important to remember that straight paths provide an opportunity for maximum vehicle speeds, therefore the required number of access points should also be evaluated. Ideally, the reduction of entry points will improve security and lower the cost of vehicle barrier systems.

In areas where a reasonable stand-off distance cannot be achieved or where oversized vehicles require entry, a sally-port configuration should be considered. The sally port configuration will provide for a redundant system of vehicle barriers allowing inspection of a vehicle while maintaining a secured perimeter. Whatever strategy a protection plan chooses, the goal is to slow down or stop a vehicle before it can slam into the target.

Threat Assessment: A threat assessment must be conducted on the building to determine whether the facility is a target and what the likely outcome of an attack will be. The threat assessment must take into consideration the risk, the vulnerability, and the probability of an attack occurring as well as the potential loss to life and property if the target is attacked or destroyed. A threat analysis should include the possible maximum loss (maximum loss to life and property if the target is destroyed) and the probable maximum loss (the reasonable amount of loss the target will sustain.) Once a threat analysis has been conducted, the process can move forward to selecting the most appropriate device to include the type, rating, and design of a protective vehicle barrier. More importantly, the risk management process should take into consideration the anticipated budget for target hardening.

Traffic Flow: Once the configuration of the checkpoint has been identified, a traffic flow study should be performed. The ideal result of the study should yield the most effective means to maintain throughput without causing significant delays. It’s the balance between maintaining security without significant business interruptions.

Human Operation: Human operations consist of the manpower required to operate a checkpoint. The inspection and barrier operation duties should always be separate duties. The separation of duties helps avoid an unauthorized entry into a secured perimeter. Entry should only be authorized once the screener has completed agency-specific guidelines for inspection of the vehicle before authorizing entry. The barrier design should be simple and easy to activate. The control area for security personnel assigned to activate the barrier should be clutter free. Distractions should be minimal in order to ensure the operator devotes his full attention to operating the barrier. Ongoing and documented training is recommended for security personnel operating even simple barriers systems. The training should include a check list to be performed at the opening of each post as well as operational guidelines.

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