Throughout the years, there have been several major events that have caused federal facilities to reassess their security. The January 6, 2021 Capitol Riot is just the latest, causing renewed interest in federal building security.
Even with many security upgrades made to federal buildings over the past 25 years or so, the riot at the Capitol Building made it clear that there is still much room for improvement.
In this article, we’ll take a brief look at why and how federal facilities have worked to increase security over the years. We’ll then go into some more detail on how federal buildings could improve their glass security, specifically using ArmorPlast™.
A Brief Background of Federal Building Security Upgrades
How Federal Building Security Has Changed Over Time
There are thousands of government-owned buildings and spaces leased by the federal government spread throughout the 50 states, as well as in U.S. overseas territories.
These buildings house over two million federal employees and host millions of visitors each year. The security of federal buildings is of the utmost importance to keep these workers and guests safe and ensure that the U.S. government is able to operate peacefully.
As with all types of commercial facilities, government buildings face a variety of external threats.
Potential threats to government building security:
- Active shooter scenarios
- Bomb blasts
- Civil unrest
- Terrorist attacks
Many of the security upgrades made to federal buildings over the years have been a result of unfortunate violent incidents that have targeted government facilities.
For example, after the Oklahoma City bomb attack that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building and killed 168 individuals, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) set out to greatly increase the security of all facilities under its control.
Examples of security upgrades implemented since 1995:
- Added more uniformed Federal Protective Service Officers
- Increased the number of contracted guards in federal buildings
- Expanded intelligence sharing between federal agencies
- Added more monitored surveillance systems
- Installed x-ray machines and magnetometers
- Restricted access to entry points and parking lots
Today, government facilities controlled by the GSA are rated from Level 1 to Level 4 in terms of security requirements, with Level 4 buildings needing the most security measures and Level 1 buildings needing the fewest.
The numbers do show that criminal activity has decreased on federal properties since 1995, but there are still many inconsistencies in security and room for improvements to be made.
The Capitol Building riot is a prime example of this. Despite all the security measures in the Capitol, such as uniformed police, security guards, surveillance cameras, and controlled-access entry points, an angry mob of rioters was still able to enter the building.
There are naturally many reasons why this was allowed to happen, but one of the big ones is that the Capitol Building does not have a high level of physical security, especially when it comes to the building’s glass.
In any type of facility, the building’s glass doors and windows are its most vulnerable potential entry points. So, in order to keep rioters and other criminals out of a building, you have to reinforce the glass with something that makes an actual physical barrier to forced entry.
Let’s take a look at one such way to do so: ArmorPlast™ polycarbonate glazing shields.
How Can ArmorPlast™ Improve Federal Building Security?
Using AP25 and Other Glazing Shields for Better Federal Building Security
So, what exactly is ArmorPlast™?
ArmorPlast™ is an abrasion- and UV-resistant polycarbonate sheeting, designed to fit into or onto existing glass door and window openings to protect against forced entry, rioting, active shooters, and more.
These sheets have a glass-like surface hardness and appearance, combined with the virtually unbreakable strength of polycarbonate. ArmorPlast™ is available in different thicknesses and strengths, from containment-grade (non-ballistic) to ballistic-grade glazing shields.
For many security applications where bullet resistance is not required, we recommend ArmorPlast™ AP25. This is an entry-level containment-grade glazing shield, meaning that bullets can pass through it, but it won’t appreciably diminish in strength or break apart.
AP25 could be an ideal solution for protecting government buildings during riots because it cannot be smashed through to gain access to areas it protects.
Even if rioters are armed with guns, as we saw some were during the Capitol riot, they won’t be able to shoot their way through the panels. AP25 can be riddled with bullets and still remain a barrier to entry.
- 1/4-inch AR-2 polycarbonate sheet
- Abrasion and UV resistant coating
- Highly impact resistant (resists cracking and shattering)
- Prevents would-be intruders from gaining entry
- Looks and feels very much like glass
On the other hand, for government facilities where bullet-resistant windows and doors are required, there are various levels of ballistic-grade ArmorPlast™ glazing shields available.
Choosing ArmorPlast™ over other types of safety and security glass products offers a huge advantage in that polycarbonate is much stronger and lighter than glass, so you may be able to use it for applications where thick, heavy security glass is not an option.
For example, many older buildings, such as the Capitol, do not have strong enough framing systems to support huge glass panels. However, something like AP25 may be an option because it is more lightweight and can be retrofitted onto a wide variety of existing frame types.
ArmorPlast™ is ideal for:
- Government buildings
- Religious buildings
- Retail stores
- Detention centers
- Corporate offices
- Any other high-security facilities
Our Final Thoughts
Government buildings and other high-security facilities face a wide variety of criminal threats. Whether it’s a riot or an active shooter, these scenarios can unfold when least expected.
That’s why it’s so important for these types of facilities to have a comprehensive system of security measures in place.
Security guards, controlled entry points, and monitored surveillance are all great deterrents, but they don’t create a physical barrier to entry over vulnerable doors and windows.