Kansas Cop Presents Argument for More Protective Glazing During GANA Fall Conference
August 24, 2010

Members of the Glass Association of North America (GANA) who turned their security alarms on before leaving home for this week’s Fall Conference in Kansas City, Mo., found themselves shaking their heads by the end of this morning’s Protective Glazing Committee meeting. Officer Michael Betten of the Overland Park Police Department gave a presentation this morning on “Securing Houses of Worship with Laminated Glass.”

Betten explained that he focused on houses of worship specifically because many people think of churches as “soft targets.” He mentioned that in 2009 there were more than 1,200 crimes against Christian churches, more than 700 of which were burglaries. Churches aim to provide a feeling of openness and trust; glazing materials can enhance that feeling of openness but can also allow quick, easy access to intruders.

“Security is a lot of commonsense, but there are a lot of misconceptions out there as well,” Betten said. He mentioned that the purpose of an upcoming meeting with a local synagogue is to discuss a request that is being made for cameras and lighting to protect the house of worship from burglaries or other potential crimes. According to Betten, the security system promotes a false sense of security; he pointed specifically to just one advertisement that said once the alarm is on the homeowner didn’t have to worry. Hardly, as Betten explained, a security alarm going off is an indication that the offender is inside. “By the time we get there your stuff is already on eBay,” he said.

On the topic of alarms, Betten shared another story where the burglars went through a tempered storefront of a golf shop--in 58 seconds. While the alarm was going off the burglars were able to take off with $58,000 worth of stuff. “Anytime we’ve implemented laminated glass in a commercial application … and we get one or two glass breaks. What do the burglars end up doing?” Betten asked. “Just leaving.”

As he explained, the offenders already assume an alarm is on. Moreover, they already know they can get through a window. What they are looking for is whether that window will provide a great deal of visibility from the outside while they are inside committing the crime. As a result, Betten actually promotes the use of “more glazing” in churches. He encourages a great deal of visibility so people can easily see in--and potential offenders have no place to hide.

Moreover, he noted, laminated glass is important “if we have to initiate a lockdown, we want a barrier.” Another benefit, he pointed out, is that laminated glass “works whether there’s electricity or not,” as opposed to popular alarm systems.
Betten likewise pointed to unobtrusive aesthetics as reasons to consider laminated glass. “I don’t want to sacrifice aesthetics for security. People think you have to and it’s not true,” he said.

The GANA members in the audience had plenty of questions on the topic. Division chair Valerie Block of DuPont noted that she had heard that most residential break-ins occur through the front door, which Betten confirmed. When asked if it’s the same in houses of worship, he said that windows are a more common point of entry. Coincidentally, Betten said, a local mandate about ten years ago that required more secure front doors in new residential construction has led to an increase in break-ins through windows, another point in his case for laminated glass in the ground floors and basement egress windows.

The concern for use of laminated glass in residences, the audience agreed, is that most homeowners question whether firefighters are able to get in through laminated glass. Betten pointed out that compensating for lack of protective glazing with extra deadbolts and other measures can, in fact, be more dangerous for homeowners. “But,” he said, “that comes with education.

Betten says several new homes in Overland Park have been sold as “security homes,” complete with laminated glass. “We didn‘t even realize that once we locked that house up there was significance sound-deadening capabilities,” he noted, a comment that elicited chuckles from a few laminated glass and interlayer suppliers in the room, well familiar with those properties of laminated glass.

“I’ve probably sold more laminated glass than anyone in the country,” Betten joked as he closed his otherwise sobering presentation to a round of applause. It was an educational meeting for the GANA members, who, during the session began, considering educational opportunity for customers.

The GANA Fall Conference continues through Thursday. Stay tuned to USGNN.com™ for more updates from the conference.

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