3 Questions for

David von Damm

January 14, 2021

David von Damm heads up the Security and Emergency Services Division for the Lab. His team is responsible for physical security, which includes the security staff that monitors and patrols the Lab, provides badge and access services, and plans for emergencies with the emergency management team.

He says many people don’t realize that wearing your security badge while on Lab sites is a Department of Energy requirement. Displaying your badge assures others that you are authorized to be on site and increases security awareness for everyone. This year we are working on training and special communication to educate our Lab community on our positive security changes and requirements. Please be on the lookout for more information.

Recent events and reports of potential threats to government facilities have raised the question of security at Lab sites. There is currently no indication that our Lab will be impacted by events reportedly planned before and during the inauguration.

David answers three questions about security at Lab sites and the role you can play in keeping everyone safe.

Recent reports of potential unrest in the coming days directed toward federal facilities have prompted some employees to ask what the state of Lab security is. What type of security steps does the Lab take every day, and are there any special steps that are taken in these situations?

Our security and emergency management professionals focus on safety and security so the Lab community can focus on its great science. Our 24/7 Site Operations Center (SOC) is a monitoring and communication hub, coordinating security, police, and fire services. Security teams patrol and respond to alarms and reports of potential concerns. With special events such as the inauguration, we increase staffing and activate our incident management group - in coordination with our UC police partners - for real-time monitoring of local conditions. If we need to change our security posture, we’ll be ready. Anyone can call the SOC any time to report a concern at 510-486-6999.

It appears that COVID-19 has changed some security procedures at the Lab. Could you talk about the changes due to COVID-19 that helped you implement the Lab’s security plan?

Thanks to our COVID-19 protocols, the Lab is probably the most secure it has ever been. We’ve implemented new procedures requiring your Lab badge to access both the site and buildings, so we know who’s on site. Blackberry Gate is the only gate open for entry to the Lab, while both Blackberry and Grizzly gates are open for exiting. With fewer people on site, however, we have seen an increase in trespassers and even a few cases of petty theft. These changes ensure our spaces are more secure and also complement our COVID-19 safety protocols that require us to understand who has accessed a building if a safety concern arises.

The on-site Lab population is much reduced due to the COVID-19 protocols. Even so, what can people who are on site do to help?

We want to know if you see anything out of the ordinary. Our security officers will respond, evaluate, and involve the police if needed. The Lab is increasing its security with upgraded technology, but at the end of the day, you are our best security. We do occasionally have trespassers and even some petty theft, so it’s important for people to let the SOC know when they see things. If you see any crime in progress or behavior that could endanger anyone, call 911 immediately. And please wear your security badge in a visible location and be ready to present it at site and building entry points.