Spencer Coursen | Executive Summary

Spencer Coursen | Threat Management Expert | Washington, DC

Spencer Coursen is combat veteran, expert security consultant, threat assessment advisor and vulnerability reduction professional. He is the President of Coursen Security Group which advises, consults, and manages a diverse and selective client list on a wide-range of corporate, personal, and physical security concerns.

Over the course of his diverse career, Mr. Spencer Coursen has planned, executed and led close protection details for dignitaries, heads of state, boards of directors, CEOs, celebrities, media, and public figures on more than 300 international trips to 163 different countries. He has extensive international exposure, including the provision of close protection and threat assessment to clients in high-risk environments throughout Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, and the Middle East.

In addition to his experience in leading close protection details, Mr. Coursen has extensive experience in developing systems and strategies to better assess and manage risks for clients, advising clients on the assessment, management, and profiling of potentially violent persons and situations, and maintaining a wide range of intra and interagency coordination.

After earning a B.A. in both psychology and sociology, Mr. Coursen served in the US Army, where he was a graduate of the U.S. Army Airborne School and the U.S. Army Ranger School. By the end of his Army career, Mr. Coursen had helped to plan and lead multiple combat missions throughout the Middle East, often times working closely with the  Australian Special Air Service, U.S. Special Forces, and agencies of the U.S. Government.

After an honorable discharge from the United States Army, Spencer Coursen served with distinction as a State Department sponsored and sworn Special Deputy United States Marshal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF.) In this role he was directly responsible for the safety and security of two consecutive IMF Managing Directors and their executive management teams. These responsibilities included daily protective coverage, residential and headquarter security, and coordination with host government authorities for all domestic and international travel — including physical security assessments , investigations into threats, and the securing of major events attended by world leaders (G6, G7, G8, G20.)

Mr. Coursen was next Deputy Director of the Protective Services Division at Gavin de Becker & Associates, where he worked closely with clients to design and execute services best suited to their specific needs. During this time, Mr. Coursen conducted and oversaw investigations into suspected criminal activity, asset loss, property damage, personal injury, and alleged employee misconduct. He was also responsible for determining the need and managing the design, procurement, and installation, of protective systems and strategies required at the residences and offices of clients.

With this extensive background and knowledge in hand, Mr. Coursen founded Coursen Security Group which offers consulting and management expertise on a variety of security-related concerns.

Spencer Coursen’s wide range of experience in strategy, management, and analysis makes him an expert in threat assessment, protective intelligence, and vulnerability reduction. He served as a security consultant for the Academy Award nominated film Zero Dark Thirty and can be seen as a contributing expert on ABC News, Fox News, Katie Couric, and The Blaze. His expert commentary has been featured in print in the Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Seattle Times, Ocean Home Magazine, Philly.com, the New York Times, The Seattle Times, Open Health News, American Thinker, USA Today, and FoxNews.com.

 

Spencer Coursen is a nationally recognized threat management expert who has an exceptional record of success in the assessment, management, and resolution of threats, domestic and global security operations, investigations, policy authorship, and protective strategy.

Spencer Coursen | Threat Management Expert

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Safety vs. Security: Understanding the Difference May Soon Save Lives | Spencer Coursen

Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group discusses the difference between safety and security. In this image, a Close-up of CCTV security camera on wall.

In the wake of violent threats, there is often a costly, ineffective and ill-advised response to security, rather than a well-thought, practical and preventative approach to safety.

Safety and Security are too often used interchangeably, as if they mean the same thing. This can be a losing proposition. <Read More

 

Spencer Coursen | Threat Management Expert

Can Cameras Keep Us Safe? | Spencer Coursen

Since September 11th, 2001, an estimated 30 million cameras have been sold in the United States. They are used for everything from counter-terrorism efforts to everyday traffic violations .

As a security professional, I will concede that there is an appropriate use for cameras in the name of public safety. However, it is important to understand the realistic role cameras play in the security process, and the public needs to have their expectations properly framed to meet their expectations.

Cameras have always been and will always been an intricate part of a comprehensive security program, but this also requires an understanding that cameras work best when employed in concert with other security notification features.

Take an office building for example. A large office building in a downtown Metropolis could have as many as 100 surveillance cameras in, out, and around their complex. However, they may only have a two-person security team whose sole purpose is to monitor the feeds provided by these cameras. Even the most ambitious of eyes could not effectively monitor all of the information being transmitted by all of the cameras around the building at all times.

To combat this deficiency, a security plan will incorporate early-warning devices such as motion sensors or or approach beans around the complex to alert the monitoring individual to a specific area of prioritized importance. The focus of the security team can then be effectively focused on that specific monitor of relevance.

For example; if an alarm goes off indicating an open window in zone four, second floor, room 12, the surveillance cameras can then be focused onto that particular area to confirm the activity.

However, the reality is that most organizations, schools and office building using cameras as part of their overall security plan, simply can not afford to dedicate personnel to watch the surveillance feeds in real-time. Their cameras are therefore utilized as an investigative asset to provide very useful information to investigators who respond after a crime has already been committed.

When a crime is reported, the police are called to secure the scene in order to ensure public safety, and detectives are called to investigate the crime. The surveillance footage will then be reviewed for clues while their investigation is conducted. The surveillance footage may even be shown at trial to reinforce the evidence used by the prosecutor to make the case.

As they were designed to do, cameras work best as a silent and unbiased witness to what takes place, but they rarely prevent a crime from taking place. Even in a scenario where an attack or a crime is taking place, the real-time feed of the camera may provide you with enough time to get yourself to safety, but will not realistically ever be used to thwart the attack they have identified.

Failures of Facial Recognition

Despite the riveting displays of drama on television, where our secret agent uploads a photo to a database and the suspect is quickly identified and tracked. The real world application still leaves much to be desired.

Several factors come into play with facial recognition:

1. You have to know who/what you are looking for because cameras only monitor their field of view and their software must have something to match.

2. Computational variables are often to much to process. The more variables involved, the more difficult the computation. Finding one person in ten is a relatively simple task compared to finding one person in a million. Time and distance also play key factors. Looking for a needle in a haystack is one thing, but looking for a needle hidden in a haystack which has just been whiplashed by a tornado and spread out across a city is something else entirely.

3. Quality counts. An ATM camera will easily identify the user of the cash machine, but the quality of the lens does not accurately focus to the field of view across the street. It’s true that many cameras in today’s security program have the ability to Pan – Tilt – Zoom, but if no one is focusing the camera on the one particular subject of attention at the exact moment of criminal activity, that added benefit is of no use in the investigation after the fact.

Today’s cameras simply don’t serve the purpose our elected leaders wish them to serve, and while having more cameras helps the investigation efforts after the crime has taken place, they do nothing to prevent the crime from taking place.

In cyber labs around the globe, feasibility studies are currently being conducted in an attempt to merge metadata and data mining with surveillance capability, but even this endeavor has its own inherent challenges. Linking social media, bio metrics and behavior analysis with surveillance may be able to narrow the focus to one particular focus, but may limit the overall context – As if looking through a keyhole may give you a very clear picture, but may distort the larger context.

Until such time as tomorrow’s future wishes become today’s reality, employing more of the same will only add burden to an already laborious and antiquated methodology for keeping us safe. Our personal safety requires preventative options much more than reactionary measures.

At the end of the day, the best identifier of suspicious behavior will always be the civilian on the street. If you see something say something. Give the police as much information as possible to do their job. Trust your gut. If something seems wrong or out of place, there’s probably a good reason you feel that way. The role of the police is to protect and serve the public, but they require our willingness to first protect and serve each other. Let the police decide which leads to pursue, and what is relevant and what is not.

Safety requires the participation of a knowledgeable public who are unafraid to act, who are willing to defend, and who have the courage of their own conviction.

The best preventative cameras in the world are the one’s we were born with. We don’t need to have the insight of Sherlock Holmes to make a difference, just the willingness to notice a small part of the world around us.

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Spencer Coursen is a nationally recognized threat management expert who has an exceptional record of success in the assessment, management, and resolution of threats, domestic and global security operations, investigations, policy authorship, and protective strategy.

Spencer Coursen | Threat Management Expert

Buying a Home Security System? | Spencer Coursen

Home security systems come in every possible configuration. From a coffee can full of quarters propped up agains the door to state-of-the-art, wifi-enabled, iPad controlled, virtual viewing systems that would make even James Bond jealous.

Fill a coffee can with quarters and prop it against the door to make a homemade alarm
Coffee Can and Quarters
Anti-intrusion trick
iPad Security System Display courtesy of ekeypad.net
iPad Security System Display courtesy of blog.ekeypad.net

Regardless of who installs your home security system or how many bells and whistles your system may feature, it is important to keep these two very significant realities in mind.

1.  Your alam is not designed to prevent something from happening. It is designed to alert you to the fact that something IS happening.

2.  Your system will NOT tell you what to do or where to go. It will only alert you to the fact that it’s time for you to initiate whatever comes next in your safety plan.

Most people spend a considerable amount of time and money researching and investing in the best system to alert them of danger, but very few ask the follow-up question of what they should do when something does.  When moments matter most, the whole point of the system is to buy you the precious seconds you need to get to somewhere safe.

Safety is the by-product of awareness and preparation.  The system will help make you aware, but you still have to be prepared for what comes next.

So, do yourself a favor and have your family emergency plan in place BEFORE the alarm first sounds.   Have a plan, know where to go, and know how to get there.

Austin Texas Spencer Coursen Coursen Security Group Logo Preparing Today for a Safer Tomorrow
Coursen Security Group
Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group Bio Photo
Spencer Coursen

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Spencer Coursen helps manage unfavorable circumstance toward favorable resolve. He is a security advisor, analyst, consultant, and strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, private individuals, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen

RUN > HIDE > FIGHT | Graphic | Spencer Coursen

Spencer Coursen Coursen Security Group Safety Made Simple Run Hide Fight Graphic
Safety Made Simple
Run > Hide > Fight
Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group Bio Photo
Spencer Coursen

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Spencer Coursen helps manage unfavorable circumstance toward favorable resolve. He is a security advisor, analyst, consultant, and strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, private individuals, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen

Run > Hide > Fight | Spencer Coursen

Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group Banner to Run Hide Fight to survive an Active Shooter
Understanding the concept of Run > Hide > Fight to survive an Active Shooter event.

A building fire is more violent and unpredictable than an active shooter, yet we don’t train to hide from a fire, we train to run.  So why when it comes to active shooters do we train to hide? We must not mistake a game of life and death for a game of hide and seek.

Sometimes police-trained administrators promote a “shelter in place” policy because police don’t want the active shooter to run away with all of the people who would otherwise be evacuating. The primary concern for the police is public safety, which means keeping the shooter – and you – contained inside the building.

This is an accountability concern, but this does nothing to promote your personal safety. My advice: Save yourself today and let the police worry about catching the bad guys tomorrow.  Truth be told, active shooters have no plan to escape. They have only one agenda: Hurt as many people as possible until captured or killed.

“Law enforcement agencies and personnel have no duty to protect individuals from the criminal acts of others; instead their duty is to preserve the peace and arrest law breakers for the protection of the general public.”   Lynch v. N.C. Dept. of Justice,376 S.E. 2nd 247 (N.C. App. 1989)

We have all heard RUN > HIDE > FIGHT discussed as the best course of action to survive an active shooter, but it’s important that we understand how RUN > HIDE > FIGHT was really intended.

RUN – Run away from danger as fast as you can. Put as much distance between you and harm as possible.  This does NOT mean run to your classroom, or your office, or the closest place to hide. It means running away like your life depends on it.  Run until you are no longer physically able to do so or until your reach a secure location. Movement means life, and a moving target is harder to hit. Have a plan, know where to go, and know how to get there.  (If you have school-aged children, identify places they know they can go to be safe, and where you know you can go to find them)

HIDE – If you are too tired to run but are not yet to a safe place, you should hide until you have more energy to run. Hiding is a temporary solution, not a final result. We all know how to hide, we’ve been doing it since we were kids. As soon as you catch your breath, make sure the coast is clear and RUN!

FIGHT – As a last resort, fight with all your might. Kick, punch, yell, scream, scratch, and slap your way free, then RUN!

When in doubt, keep things simple and do whatever you can to separate yourself from danger. Your survival instinct is stronger than you think.  Stay aware and be prepared, and you’ll be able to save yourself!

Austin Texas Spencer Coursen Coursen Security Group Logo Preparing Today for a Safer Tomorrow

Spencer Coursen of Coursen Security Group Bio Photo
Spencer Coursen

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Spencer Coursen helps manage unfavorable circumstance toward favorable resolve. He is a security advisor, analyst, consultant, and strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, private individuals, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen

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Spencer Coursen | Ten Uncommon Home Security Tips

Home Safety TIps
Home Safety TIps

Burglars are just as lazy as everyone else, and will almost always choose the path of least resistance when attempting to make a score.  Utilizing these basic tips will enhance your home security without robbing your wallet.

1.  Promote a Positive Posture

For criminals, a high likelihood of success is the single greatest factor in target selection. In most cases, criminals are first made aware of a potential target by something that is overheard.    If you are out in public, making statements like, “We take our security very seriously” is much more favorable than, “Did you hear the house across the street was robbed? We have nothing protecting us either.”  Whenever possible, promote the fact that you take your security seriously. You never know who is listening.

2. Use your car alarm
Leave your car parked outside the garage or out front on the street. if you hear something in the middle of the night, press your car alarm panic button. The flashing lights and car horn will be enough of a deterrent to make a criminal think twice.

3. Someone should always seem home

Avoid promoting the fact that no one is home.  Keep a few lights on low or a TV with the sound on.  Don’t let your mail or newspapers pile up in front of your door. Forcing a criminal to question if someone is home, is often enough for them to transfer to another target.

4. Talk to your neighbors

Not all crimes happen at night, and criminals may disguise themselves as contractors, delivery services, or landscapers to gain access to your property.  Use your neighbors as a resource.  A simple text message between neighbors indicating professional services on each other’s property’s is a great communication tool.  Remember:
Safety requires the participation of everyone.

5. Hide and Seek

Employ creative hiding places. Criminals are always operating on a tight timeline and will target the most obvious locations first. Don’t keep anything of value in the top bedroom drawer.

6.  Use your shredder

Cross-shred anything sensitive before it goes in the trash.  Some criminals do research on their intended targets looking for information proving that their hunches were accurate and that targeting your home is worth the risk. Your garbage provides a lot of information about you like, where you shop, and what you buy – all three are indications of wealth and assets.

7. Build a basic burglar alarm

Take a glass jar and partially fill it with loose change. Prop the glass up against a door.  If the door opens, the glass tips over and the change rattles. This trick works for stacked quarters on window locks too.  If you have carpet floors, put a cookie tray under the window for the change to hit when it falls.

8. Use what you have available

Door wedges aren’t just for holding doors open, they can also be used to keep doors wedged shut – so can wooden spoons and spatulas.

9. Lock your doors and window

Seems obvious, but the “garage door that is always open”  will eventually be used against you.  If it has a lock – lock it.  (and please don’t keep your spare key under the front door mat)

10. “Broken Window Theory”

If something is broken or damaged, fix it immediately – especially if has anything to do with access control to your property.  Doors, door bells, locks, and windows are often times all that stand between you and the uninvited, and they will only work as well as they are able.
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Spencer Coursen helps manage unfavorable circumstance toward favorable resolve. He is a security advisor, analyst, consultant, and strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, private individuals, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

 www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

www.SpencerCoursen.com 

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen

Empowering Tips for Safety | Spencer Coursen

Austin Texas Spencer Coursen Coursen Security Group Empowering Tips for Safety

Coursen Security Group

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Spencer Coursen helps manage unfavorable circumstance toward favorable resolve. He is a security advisor, analyst, consultant, and strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, private individuals, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen

What Would You Do If You Were Out On A Run And Ran Into Danger?

What Would You Do If You Were Out On A Run And Ran Into Danger?

parkrun

Reading this article by Karen Cordano made me think of my younger sisters in a similar scenario. It pains me to know I can’t always be there to protect them, but I’m fortunate enough to know they have empowered themselves well beyond needing their big brother to constantly keep them safe.

With them in mind, here are some best practices for everyday safety in support of your fitness goals:

1. Let him know with a NO!

If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, it is not only OK, but it is highly encouraged for you to say something. “NO!” has the ability to diffuse and the power to de-escalate more situations than you may realize. “No” is a complete sentence. No explanation needed.

Was Creepy Bike Guy following Karen? Her description of his behavior in the article says Yes!. Was it fair of him to stress her out and ruin her run? Absolutely not!  If this happens to you, lighten the load of fear you would otherwise be forced to carry and employ a meaningful “No!” He will cower…you will crusade. Winners win.

2. Be Aware

It’s easy to get lost in the moment. Earphones on, music up, heart beat racing, and eyes on the prize. Which is great if you’re on a treadmill at the gym, but out in the “real world,” safety requires our awareness and preparation. Effective self-defense begins long before a physical altercation. Awareness of your surroundings, awareness of your environment, and awareness of what looks ‘out of place,’ prepares you physically and mentally for what may come next. Being aware and engaged with your environment also promotes a confidence that is often your first line of defense in convincing a would-be-attacker that they will have a greater chance of success targeting someone else.

3. Be Prepared

Be prepared with a plan, but keep things simple and easy. Don’t forget to identify a few Safe Havens along the routes you take everyday. Whenever you go for a walk, jog, or run, in support of your fitness goals, try to pick routes where escape/safety venues are easily accessible. Remember that mom’s at the playground, grocery stores, and restaurants are just as likely to offer help as the local police station and firehouse. Just make sure you know where they are ahead of time.

So, wherever you find yourself; whether it’s on a run through the park, or enjoying a beach run on vacation, make sure you have a plan, know where to go, and know how to get there. 

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Spencer Coursen helps manage unfavorable circumstance toward favorable resolve. He is a security advisor, analyst, consultant, and strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, private individuals, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen

Safety and Security | Spencer Coursen

Austin Texas Spencer Coursen Coursen Security Group Logo Safety and Security Emblem

Safet_Coursen_Security_GroupIn the wake of violent threats,. there is often a costly, ineffective and  ill-advised response to security, rather than a well-thought, practical and preventative approach to safety.

The difference between security and safety is this:  Security is the umbrella over however safety has been defined.

Think of a concert venue where the security team stands at the entrance to make sure that everyone who enters has a ticket, but does nothing to otherwise ensure that no contraband is being brought into the venue.  Their role as security is therefore to protect against unauthorized entry, but that does nothing to protect your personal safety.

The Congressional response to Sandy Hook was to pursue legislation to ban certain types of firearms even though their authors admitted the very legislation they were fighting for would not have prevented these shootings from taking place.

So, why don’t we take a realistic look at the problem we face and then employ a practical solution which would immediately enhance the safety of today’s schools and office buildings

The best scenario, of course, is to stop an attack from happening in the first place.

To do this, we must understand the motives of the violent offender and then empower ourselves to employ effective safeguards to ensure our safety.

For the violent offender – likelihood of success is the single greatest factor in selecting which target to attack.  More than personal grievance, rage or anger – the act itself is of much greater significance than their target.

When we look at the history of active shooters – not just in schools – but in workplaces as well…

With overwhelming similarity we see that the violent offenders are not tactically trained but are rather emotionally disturbed individuals trying to perpetuate as much pain as possible onto defenseless victims.

And let’s be clear – these violent offenders are not employing a super spy guy bag of tricks to get inside, they aren’t repelling from rooftops, or sneaking in through windows in the dark of the night… And how are they gaining access?  they are walking through the front door in the middle of the day. 

Even the most basic employment of access control measures could have prevented so many lives from being lost.   

Lets take schools for example.  When a school is in session, there should only be one way for guests and visitors to approach, and a specific process by which they are allowed to enter.  A school in session should mimic a Broadway theater after the curtain has gone up: lots of ways for the audience to leave, but only one way for a patron to enter -and if you leave – someone has to let you back in.

Unlike a bank robber who’s motivation to employ violence is for profit, an active shooter engages in a violent act for the very purpose of displacing their own pain and suffering onto defenseless victims.

This is where an effective threat assessment and management program could help to identify emerging threats.

According to the FBI, most active shooters do not have a violent past

However most have experienced a recent emotional hardship where they felt betrayed, harassed – or tormented

They may have been recently divorced, fired, or suffered a recent financial hardship.

But in an almost all of these cases,  the violent offender has engaged in some sort of behavior that identifies them as being likely to escalate from disrupting behaviors to destructive actions.

We do not need to be heroes

But we do need to know we can save ourselves

Much more than heroics, we must employ common sense.

When confronted by violence – When moments matter most.

We must already have a plan in place.  We must know where to go and we must know how to get there.

We must also be mindful to not mistake accountability for survivability. 

Sometimes police-trained administrators promote a “shelter in place” policy because police don’t want the active shooter to run away with all of the people who would otherwise be evacuating.

The reality is that most active shooters have no plan to escape.  They have only one plan…hurt as many people as possible until killed or captured.

In most cases involving active shooters three outcomes are most likely:

  • The first is they will commit suicide
  • The second is they will be killed by responding police
  • The third is they will be unexpectedly subdued or surrender in the face of an active confrontation.

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Too often instruction are given to shelter in place during an attack. But sheltering in place was conceived to protect against external threats, natural disasters, high winds, falling trees and other non-human dangers. It is an absurd idea for surviving a physical encounter.

Would you hide under your bed if there was a burglar in your house or would you do everything you could to get out and run away?

Quite simply, you cannot outrun a storm, but you can outrun a person, especially one not chasing you.

Every organization practices fire drills.   Well, a building fire is more violent and unpredictable than an active shooter – yet we don’t train hide from a fire, we train to run.  We must not mistake a game of life and death for a game of hide and seek.

The certainty of our safety requires our participation to not only be aware of the realistic threats we face, but also to promote a practical approach to the assurance our safety requires. 

Working together, I know we can help prepare today for a safer tomorrow.

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Spencer Coursen helps manage unfavorable circumstance toward favorable resolve. He is a security advisor, analyst, consultant, and strategist who is dedicated to reducing risk and preventing violence. His systems and strategies help corporations, non-profit organizations, private individuals, schools, and at-risk public figures ensure the certainty of safety for all involved.

www.CoursenSecurityGroup.com

Info@CoursenSecurityGroup.com

 @SpencerCoursen / @CoursenSecurity

https://www.linkedin.com/in/spencercoursen