One of the ground controllers from Morton Field was on the College lawn to direct the landing of the choppers. He had painted red, blue and white paint marks for the choppers to land on and to maintain a safe separation as they touched down.
The College grounds crew may have heartburn after everyone left, trying to get that utility marking paint off the grass and dirt before Thanksgiving.
This was the lawn where all the big tents were put up for graduation and the Mayday celebrations for all the exhibitionist students to play naked sports games. They said it was a tradition that went back over a hundred years. Somehow I doubted that, but never challenge tradition at a liberal arts college; they always seemed to find a new one whenever the student council wanted one, like the toga party.
We were guided onto the spot the most distant away from the buildings; the media and Marine 1 would land closer. The media chopper was going to land first so all the reporters could get video of the President stepping off the chopper.
Marine 1 and the media chopper were 10 minutes behind. That gave me time to introduce the people with me to the assembled dignitaries. I asked one of my task force members to be in charge of a box that was on the Blackhawk that I would need later.
The media chopper touched down next and all the press corps scrambled to get set up. A few minutes later Marine 1 touched down; not knowing what the protocol was, I walked to the chopper and when the rotors stopped turning, walked to the door and waited.
A marine in dress blues came down the stairs as the door touched the ground, stood at attention and waited for the passengers to unload.
After all the introductions and photo ops, we headed to the big meeting room. Ching Lee and Patti had a presentation that showed all the before and after changes to the college grounds with access, parking and a variety of other things. Bradberry was standing by to answer any technical questions should they be asked.
Then they got into the technical part with cameras, scanners, alert systems, the ID card, how it worked and all the things that could be done with it, imagining systems and other things. With all that done, next was show and tell.
We went over to the security building that had been remodeled; the big meeting room was gone, the wall was partially removed and in its place was the new security control room with all the whistles and bells. It had desks for two attendants to monitor the array of screens.
The number of entrances had been reduced and all were monitored by thermal imagining, facial imaging that compared the face to the student ID on file. There were scales in the mat at the doors and imagining that compared the student’s height and weight to the file.
For visitors, the height and weight was compared against the norms. If you were wearing 20 pounds of explosives then you should be flagged by weight. At least that was the theory. All visitors had to enter the college from one entrance and the maze of scanners, infrared and thermal.
Where the students once had to stand on the sidewalk to cross the street over to G dorm and wait on the traffic light, there was now a wall to stand behind. Anyone watching could not see the sex or number of students who were waiting. More cameras were also at that crossover.
A new kind of automated metal detection linked to the equipment that could estimate the size and weight of a metal object on a person and determine if it was keys or a handgun or other object was at all entrances. The computer had thousands of objects on file for comparison. If the computer was in doubt an alarm sounded.
I tapped four of the agents who I knew were carrying and gave each of them one of the test ID cards and a portable radio, told them “Separate and go wander around the campus. I will call you on the radio when we are finished.”
One of those agents was Greg Archer; I stopped him and handed him my Glock, “When I call you, I want you to put three rounds straight into the ground somewhere in the grass. Pick up the casings, please.”
“I can use my weapon,” he replied.
“You shoot yours and you have a hundred forms to fill out. You shoot mine and I simply refill the clip, no paperwork,” I replied.
“Point taken, I like your line of thinking” Greg said with a laugh.
I gave them the test ID cards so I could demonstrate the tracking available on the card system.
The scanners and thermals picked up the agents’ weapons multiple times as they went around the college. The multiple displays allowed as many different programs as the controllers needed at any given time.
“Troy, today I am going to let you be a bad guy one more time. Take off your trench coat and jacket”,” I said.
I opened the box Greg had brought in. It contained a suicide belt Dad had made for me using the pictures that Ching Lee had taken. Wiring, pipes, battery and phone were identical. It looked like the real thing.
The only difference was the pipes were filled with kitty litter. I helped him put it on and fed the kill button down the right sleeve of the trench coat as he put it on. For good measure, I snapped the battery into the phone.
“Wait a minute, this thing is not real. Is it?” Troy asked.
“Ben, what do you think?”
“If BJ made it, it’s as real as it can get,” he replied with a poker face.
“You will only hear the first couple seconds when I dial the phone,” I said, and then added, “Go wander around so we can check the equipment.”
Everywhere he went by equipment, it flagged Troy and the belt.
I watched Greg’s card and when he was in a safe area, keyed the radio, said “Go ahead.”
The new sensor array placed around the college grounds activated with the first shot. The sensor array wasn’t anything really new, several major cities with high gun violence had been experimenting with it. This was the first on a college grounds.
The console sounded, “Shots fired,” the computers determined the location and the cameras closest to the area were directed to that area within seconds. Greg was bending to pick up the shell casings.
“Today this is some of the best equipment there is; the sad part is that a few months from now it will be outdated and need upgrading. The cost has been great; this is a small college and the equipment cost to JBG was over 2 million dollars. The college spent another 1 million changing sidewalks, building access, fences and walls,” I said.
“Does anyone have any questions, suggestions, insights? What do you think about what you have seen?”
Ching Lee, Patti and Bradberry spent an hour answering questions and fielding observations.
At the end, the President and I gave a departing statement to the press corps. They had plenty of material for the stations even though they were not allowed to record the demos. They had interviews with the College Board and the agencies that had come with me. Then we were off heading towards Washington.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.