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The building no longer exists but security problems have not changed in over 20 years

Safeguarding the priceless contents of the Museum, and providing security to the various internal departments at the U.S. Mint in San Francisco is the responsibility of Captain Leonard D. Lauderdale and his Security and Safety Staff. All employees are required to wear photo ID badges some of which are coded to operate card-activated electrified door locks. In February of 1979 a small steel plate called a "CorKey," similar in size and shape to the military "dogtag," was coupled with the badges on the same strap clip to become the key to more than 100 internal doors of the various departments.

As Captain Lauderdale explains: "We previously had a regular metal key system. Many keys were reported lost and we had to have new ones made, but we knew that our personnel could have keys made too. Nothing happened, but if for 89 cents you can get a duplicate key made you don't know who has your keys. Whenever we had to change locks we sent them out to a locksmith — it was too much of a hassle! When an employee left we asked for their key back, but if they said that they 'lost it' it wasn't worth while to make an issue of it, and we either had to change locks and keys or live with the potential compromise of our system".
"We had one of the types of door hardware that the CorKey System adapts to so all we would have to do was take off our old key-in-knob door knobs and slip on the Cor-Kit locks. "Aside from a few special doors that we could adapt ourselves, there was no added cost for installation."

The CorKey Control System that the Mint obtained includes stainless steel magnetic keys that operate in low-cost mechanical locks adapted to fit without modification on major brands of door lock hardware. Available also is a kit for encoding the keys and combinating and servicing the locks. Instructions include step-by-step procedures and a section on Masterkeying.

In addition to the locks adapted to door knobs there are single and double cylinder deadbolts, single cylinder deadlatches, replacements for rim cylinders used with night latches and "jimmy-proof" auxiliary door lock and locks that operate electric switches for control of door releases, elevators, parking gates, and alarm shunts. The key is basically a magnetic card encased in steel. It has the coding capability of the magnetic card, and the durability of the metal key. In addition, the key can be re-coded countless times with equipment in the kit.

Captain Lauderdale assigned Lead Police Officer Lee Harrison the job of implementing the system. Officer Harrison had never worked with locks before and had no locksmith training. He recalls: "I took the Encoding Kit and a couple of the locks home with me and read through the Instruction Book following the examples of coding the keys and the locks. I worked out the Master coding requirements for our whole building and then coded all the keys and combinated the locks myself"

" Each key has a serial number and each division has a list of their people who have keys. For the first time each one knows who has access to their areas with some assurance that the magnetic coded CorKeys can't easily be duplicated. When they need another key they request it from Security. We pull the file card containing the code for the various doors the key is to open. Then we use the card and the Encoder Gun in the kit to code the key."

He continued, "One thing I like is that all the keys look alike. You can't tell by looking at the key if it is a master or a key to a single door. Employees can't compare the keys anymore and only our Security Department knows what the codes mean. We lost a few CorKeys in one department and decided to change the codes. I went back to the instruction book and learned how to "re-validate" the keys to a new code and how to change the locks to match. Once the Cor-Kit lock code is changed, any remaining old keys are locked out. ThenI I got back all the old CorKeys, erased them and put them back in stock. I'll issue them again with new codes when they're needed."

Ten million dollars in pure gold is on display.

Captain Lauderdale opens the door to his Security Office with his CorKey.

The CorKey and a plastic ID card share the same strap clip.

CorKey replacement doorknobs replace existing knobs of most major brands.

Lead officer Harrison in the control room of the Mint codes a CorKey and lock.
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