BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore city officials are reviewing security policies after a former DPW employee was allowed access into a city-owned building for hours, wearing a tactical vest and a fake police badge.
The city’s Office of the Inspector General released a report Tuesday after they investigated the security breach at the Abel Wolman Municipal Building on May 6 by a former Public Works employee.
That employee was fired after they had violated the City’s security policy.
The terminated employee gained access to non-public floors and offices of the municipal building, was able to access workstation areas that had sensitive material and equipment.
The employee was allowed access without showing ID by front desk security. They also did not tell the proper officials until after the former employee left.
An outside vendor provides security guards and security services for its facilities. The guards are supposed to check people’s credentials — including non-employee IDs — and log visits.
Despite being told by the former employee that they were fired, the guard allowed them access to elevators. That security guard told OIG officials that he didn’t follow protocol because he knew and recognized the former employee.
The former employee then stayed in the building for more than two hours — catching up with former colleagues.
There’s no indication the person took any sensitive material. Employees inside the building didn’t report the former employee’s presence to security.
They also thought it was odd the former employee was wearing a tactical vest and a badge — similar to what’s worn by law enforcement — but didn’t report that either; saying they assumed they were in law enforcement now.
The former employee told them it was a part of their uniform as a process server.
Later when interviewed by OIG, the former employee said the vest and badge were purchased online and not a part of any uniform.
After the security breach, city officials will be reviewing its security policies and procedures and will make changes as needed. The Department of General Services oversees security in city-owned buildings. DGS is also making some immediate changes to prevent this from happening again.
“The safety and security of City staff in, and visitors to, City buildings is something that we that extremely seriously,” DGS Acting Director Chichi Nyagah-Nash said in a July 8 memo.
DGS has added 200 more security cameras and added access controls across buildings in key areas. They’ve also made it easy for guards to view interior and exterior cameras, started foot patrols for its downtown campus, and created a security command center with 24/7 monitoring of cameras.
There is now also a new Visitor Pass Plus software at four key buildings — City Hall, Abel Wolman, Harry Cummings and Benton — which stores visitor information for 30 days and flags barred individuals from gaining access.
They also worked with their security vendor to update their protocols on validating IDs of people entering city buildings. The city will be adding more security personnel to buildings in the coming weeks.
They are meeting with various city departments and leadership to educate them about the city’s security procedures with terminated or former employees.
The security guard who allowed the former employee entrance has been barred from working in any city-owned buildings.