Frank Santamorena, an industry veteran who also runs his own consultancy and has past ties to television, works at the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a Senior Physical Security Specialist.
Three years ago, the federal agency appointed Santamorena to serve as a technical advisor and subject matter expert helping oversee the security of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) facilities and personnel. He implements and maintains emergency management and physical security projects, as well as ensures that policies, standards, and procedures are in place. Santamorena also serves on an “ad hoc” basis as the Acting Security Section Chief for the Treasury/IRS’ New York and New Jersey territories.
Santamorena is an expert in designing and integrating all aspects of physical security, estimating he’s personally designed and project-managed more than 1,000 security systems in his decades-long career.
Santamorena is President of Security Experts, Consulting & Design LLC, and he has served under several security-related “embedded contracts” for over 30 years. For example, he held a contract with Microsoft as the tech company’s Security Consultant for the Americas for five years.
Santamorena also served as Security Expert and Advisor on the Discovery Channel’s reality TV show “It Takes a Thief,” supporting the series’ 80 episodes and coordinating security makeovers with the directors and production staff.
Some of Santamorena’s other previous roles included Technical Security Advisor for the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium and Principal/VP at DVS Security Consulting overseeing security designs and deployments at the World Trade Center site. Furthermore, Santamorena has held board positions at various security tech companies.
Santamorena served in the U.S. Air Force as a Crew Chief on the F-4 Jet Fighter Aircraft, has a degree in Aerospace Sciences, is a licensed FAA Pilot and FAA Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic, and is ASIS International Board Certified as a Physical Security Professional.
To learn more about Santamorena and his take on the industry, please check out his responses for Total Security Advisor’s latest “Faces of Security” profile below:
How did you get your start in the field?
My security career started in the mid-70s with the U.S. Air Force in Europe (USAFE-NATO), and I was deployed to several airbases in the European theater and the Middle East. There, I experienced security from the “outside-in,” which were identified through several layers of perimeter security dependent upon the asset being protected. These assets were either in the form of jet fighters and/or their armament (AIM-9s, 500lb nuclear warheads, etc.).
Twenty years after discharging from the military, I was hired by a local alarm company called Safeco Alarm Systems. Company owner John Morrow, who was retired from the New York State Police and also a pilot, thought I was teachable. I would spend the next nine years working and learning from John.
Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?
My biggest influence in the security industry was John Morrow. He taught me everything about “how to catch a mouse.” John explained to me that you had to understand the behavior of a “bad guy” to understand how to properly protect a home or a business. The best example he gave was that if you want to catch a mouse, you need to put the mouse trap around the perimeter of the room since a mouse would rarely walk into the middle of the room.
John not only taught me the science and art of designing security, but also taught me what to look for and how to interview our clients. To this day I am humbled that he gave that time, that love, and that attention to me all those years because, had it not been for his mentorship, I would never have experienced my own success in this industry.
What’s your best mistake, and what did you learn from it?
The best mistake I have ever learned in my career was that people will say almost anything to get you to do something for them and then they do not fulfill the promises they made. The lesson I learned at that point on was never to move forward unless NDAs were in place and contracts were written and signed.
What’s a major security issue at your organization?
I believe the biggest security risk at anyone’s organization is how to properly protect people and assets. In my humble opinion, when you boil security down into its simplest form, if a door latch does not extend into a doorjamb to keep the door closed, then that opening is not secure. It is as simple as that.
What’s your favorite part about working in the industry?
My favorite part about working in the industry is without a doubt the people and the relationships I have made over the course of three decades. If I had to pinpoint a shining star during this career, it would no doubt be mentoring both men and women who have given me the privilege of doing so.
What changes would you like to see?
The change that I would love to see in our industry is to better educate people on how to professionally design security systems. Granted, the art and science of designing starts with understanding what the proper interview questions are instead of simply saying where a door position switch, passive infrared sensor, keypad, etc., should be installed.
How can company leaders make security a value within their organization?
If there were one action that could be taken by company leaders to make security a value within their organization, may I please suggest they enforce whatever policies, processes, and procedures that have already been established through their own security operations procedures. Unless existing policies, processes, and procedures are enforced, nothing much will ever change.
Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Are you noticing any major trends?
Where I see the industry heading in the next five years is in the same direction I have seen it move in the past 30 years. We have been speaking about system integration of the Internet of Things (IOT) forever. Just maybe, I will see this one come to fruition in my lifetime.
What are you most proud of?
My family is what I am most proud of and seconded by the way I have lived my life—honorably.
Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
The best advice that I have given to anyone asking me this question is to start a sales position at a local mom-and-pop alarm company. Spend three or five years there. You will get a lesson in everything one needs to know about the security industry that will benefit and serve you in your entire security career.
Anything else you’d like to add?
My closest, dearest friends and colleagues in this industry all share the same fundamental beliefs. As the saying goes, people do business with people they like to do business with. Do the right thing, and the right thing will happen. Be of service to others. Be teachable. Have an exorbitant amount of willingness and be open-minded. And may I please close with a powerful quote: “We never thought of making honesty, tolerance, and true love of man (woman) and God the daily basis of living.”
Are you or a colleague interested in being profiled for the new “Faces of Security” series? Please contact Editor Joe Bebon at JBebon@BLR.com