Security Review: Old Orlando Police Headquarters

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Carnegie Mellon University
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Orlando Police Headquarters is a building located at 100 South Hughey Avenue Orlando and was opened in 1972 when Orlando's population was a meager 97,000 (Hutter, 2016). With a huge increase in the citys population, the city relocated its police headquarters to a new building in Parramore in 2017. In a period where the security threats to public buildings are evolving to terrorism, a security analysis of the building is required to comprehend what security challenges the building faces. This article conducts a security review of the old police headquarters. This article will utilize the images that were available before the demolition was started.

Figure 1: Aerial view of the old Orlando Police Headquarters

Security challenges facing public buildings in the United States are evolving. A few years ago, burglary and gun crime was the greatest security threat in the United States (Mayer & Erickson, 2011). This has now changed to terrorism. Terrorists are targeting vulnerable buildings which are populated to ensure that the number of casualties is as great as possible. In this review, an analysis of whether the old Orlando Police was well suited to tackle the emerging security challenges will be presented. The review will utilize the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) guidelines, physical security practices as well as the guidelines developed through Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).

Security Review

From Figure 1, we note that the building is constructed far from the perimeter fence. This decreases the risk of undetected intrusion by criminals. This is a recommended practice by FEMA which aims to reduce protect buildings from intrusion either by vehicles or criminals on foot. However, from Figure 4, it is clear that the front perimeter fence cannot prevent vehicular intrusion into the compound. This provides an opportunity for terrorists to launch bomb threats in the compound by use of vehicles. The location of the headquarters of a freeway may lead to a high number of casualties if it is targeted by a vehicular bomb.

Figure 2: Old Orlando Police Headquarters entrance

Figure 2 shows that the building is protected from vehicle-mounted threats. Whereas vehicles may be able to illegally access the compound, they cannot easily access the building. The use of steps and narrow paths which are too small for motor vehicles acts as protection from a forceful entrance of motor vehicles into the building. With this restriction, large explosives cannot find their way into the building. According to FEMA, the largest credible explosive device is a function of the security measures implemented. Thus, the restriction of motor vehicles into the building ensures that the largest explosive device that can be smuggled is a handheld device.

Figure 3: Front View

The presence of a parking lot next to a building may increase the risk of attack from an explosion based on a vehicle (Pasman & Kirillov, 2008). If there is no surveillance available, an attacker who has targeted the building can park adjacent to the building, then leave the building before detonating the explosive. If the explosive is large enough, its effects could be devastating to both the building and its occupants. In these days, most terrorists are willing to die for their cause. Therefore, these individuals do not care about surveillance; all they need is access to the target. The parking lot next to the police headquarters building could provide them with an opportunity to unleash terror on a famous building.

According to Klaveras (2016), mass shootings are becoming a common security threat in America. The old Orlando police Headquarters is not well protected from gunmen. The location of the building next to freeways avails a route of escape for a gunman. The building compound lacks a guarded entrance which can be used to atop attackers. Thus attackers wielding guns can easily access the building, attack it and then escape fast into the freeway. The presence of a tall building in the opposite street provides an opportunity for trained gunmen and snipers to attack targets in the building by the use of long-range rifles which are widely available.

Figure 4: Perimeter fence and tall buildings in opposite street

From our figures, it is clear that there is no sufficient protection of the tower from biological attacks. Due to the absence of a guards checkpoint or a gate, terrorists can easily bring out a biological or radiological threat that can either be released in the compound targeting the building or internally. Due to lack of enough and sophisticated security checks, biological threats such as anthrax vials can be smuggled into the building and then anthrax can be released inside the building without the detection of the culprit. Lack of external guards at the building can provide an opportunity for criminals to utilize drones to target the building with biological threats without detection.

Figure 5: Windows are not burglar-proof

The windows at the lower floors are not burglar-proof. These windows may avail opportunities for burglars to illegally access the building. A police headquarters acts as storage for delicate files. Information such as criminal records, information on suspects' and evidence can be targeted by burglars. If adequate mitigation factors are not put in place to ensure that these items are kept secure, then burglars will be encouraged to steal them.


To ensure that the old Orlando Police Headquarters remains secure in a period of changing security threats, it is required that the building improves its layers of defense. Improving these layers will ensure that the building does not become a target for criminals and terrorists. To improve its layers of security, the building needs to adopt FEMA policies, CPTED policies, and the recommended physical security guidelines

According to FEMA (2003), to protect a building from man-made hazards, a building should be constructed as far as possible from the perimeter fence. The old Orlando Police Headquarter is constructed at a reasonable distance from the perimeter fence. A large distance between the perimeter and the building increases the probability of detecting illegal intrusion. FEMA (2003) also suggests that the perimeter fence should be secured against intrusion by vehicles. The perimeter fence at the old police headquarters is not strong enough and thus needs to be strengthened to prevent motor vehicle intrusion.

There is also a need to increase the layers of physical protection at the building. According to Harris (2013), physical protection is vital for the protection of people, equipment, data, company assets systems and facilities. Physical protection works via the site design, readiness of emergency response, access control, detection of intruders, and fire protection. As shown in our images, the compound can easily be accessed as it lacks a manned gate and a security check-up. To prevent the security of the building, its workers, and all the stored files, it is important that multiple levels of security are implemented. This begins with a manned gate where all people accessing the building are identified and checked for weapons, a second guards checkpoint should be placed the entrance of the building. Surveillance cameras should then be placed strategically at the entrances of both the main gate and the building's entrance to track the movement of all people using the building.

A building requires a better emergency response facilities is also important in physical protection (Interagency Security Committee, 2015). This ensures that in case of attacks, many people are able to be evacuated from the building. From our images on the old Orlando Police Headquarters, we see no sign of marked emergency exits or fire assembly points. Emergency exits and fire assembly points need to be well labeled to ensure quick evacuation from the building.

CPTED is another strategy that can be used to improve the security of the building. CPTED utilizes proper design and use of the environment to protect an area from crime. Instead of using hardening strategies such as locks and huge gates, CPTED uses visual pleasing strategies to promote the legitimate use of space (National Crime Prevention Council, 2003). CPTED is based on four principles which are natural surveillance, natural access control, territorial reinforcement, and maintenance. Natural surveillance increasing the number of people able to see criminals and this increases the perceived risk of committing a crime. Natural access control utilizes barriers to discourage people from using spaces which they have no legitimate reason to use (National Crime Prevention Council, 2003). Territorial reinforcement involves creating boundaries between private and public place while maintenance involves keeping a place in good order to discourage illegal activities.

CPTED strategies can be implemented in the old Orlando Police Headquarters by uses of a short perimeter fence around the building. This fence should allow visibility from across the streets bordering the building. The parking lot should be placed in front of the building such that the parked cars are visible from inside the building. The paths around the buildings should be straight to increase visibility and to ensure all people using the building are directed towards the building. Landscaping can be used to vividly mark the boundaries between public space and private space. Regular maintenance and cleaning are also important in reducing incidences of crime. From Figure 5 it is vivid that the dead leaves from the lawn have not been cleaned up and this may make the building seem dilapidated. Regular painting of the building is also important.


It is clear that the design of the old Orlando Police Headquarters, which was constructed in the 1970s, did not provide an avenue for improving its security with changing times. With a shift in major security threats to terrorism and gun crimes, the building needs to incorporate new security systems to protect itself and its occupant from these threats. The best security system would incorporate FEMA guidelines, the recommended physical security guidelines, and CPTED concepts. If these concepts are implemented fully, then the ex-police headquarters has the potential of becoming one of the most secure locations in Florida.



FEMA (2003). Primer for design of commercial buildings to mitigate terrorist attacks. Risk Management Series.

Harris, S. (2013). Physical and environmental security. In CISSP Exam Guide (6th ed., pp. 427-502). USA McGraw-Hill;

Hutter, D. (2016). Physical security and why it is important. The SANS Institute.

Interagency Security Committee (2015). Best practices for planning and managing physical security resources. Singapore.

Klarevas, L. (2016). Rampage nation: Securing America from mass shootings. Amherst, New York : Prometheus Books

Mayer, M. and Erickson, S. (2011). Changing todays law enforcement culture to face 21st-century threats. [online] The Heritage Foundation. Available at: [Accessed October 11, 2017].

National Crime Prevention Council (2003). Crime prevention through environmental design guidebook. Singapore.

Pasman, H. and Kirillov, I. (2008). Resilience of cities to terrorist and other threats. Dordrecht: Springer.


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