In times of tragedy it’s easy to become burdened by fear. To be terrorized by the very notion of terror. But the reality is this…we’re going to be OK.
Most of us will live the rest of our lives free from harm. We’ll pass on from old age. Warm in our beds. Surrounded by loved ones. Most of us will be afforded this eventuality because we don’t take unnecessary risks. We pay attention to our surroundings. We wear our seat belts. We stop at red lights. We look both ways before crossing the street.
Ninety percent of safety is awareness of the realistic risks we’ll face. The other ten percent is preparation of safeguard against those risks.
Awareness + Preparation = Safety
A proactive approach isn’t new, but with recent tragedies still fresh in the minds of many, there’s no better time than the present to simplify the complexities of today’s safety concerns with a few easy-to-implement safeguards from harm.
No one fears that which they know well
The argument will always be made that we can’t protect everything all of the time. That’s true. It’s also true that bad guys can’t attack everything all the time.
It is important to understand that ‘likelihood of success’ is the single most influential factor of target selection. Predators have a common methodology. They don’t attack the strongest of the herd. They attack the weakest.
We can no longer afford to live in a world where we simply hope that nothing will happen, and then solely rely on the first responders to save us once something does.
What we CAN do is lower the likelihood of being targeted.
We CAN ensure that the policies and procedures we have written down as doctrine are the same as what are being put into practice.
We CAN raise our level of awareness to the vulnerabilities which surround us.
We CAN bring our concerns to the decision makers so that issues may be effectively addressed.
We CAN prepare today for a safer tomorrow.
The following are the key secrets to ensuring safety stays secured:
Take An Honest Look At Your Current Protective Measures
Most business leaders are aware of the risk associated with bringing their services into the marketplace, but what about those concerns inherent to their actual place of business? However unlikely it may be for a business to be directly targeted, the reality is that too few businesses have taken any proactive measures to effectively reduce their vulnerability. Today’s owners have a responsibility to understand the limitations of antiquated and reactive security measures and learn as much as they can about more proactive practices that today’s operating environment requires. The modern marketplace offers a host of consultative and technological advantages to help ensure the safety of all involved. There has never been a better time to do away with the old and welcome in the new.
Inspect What You Expect
Procedure only works if you follow it every time. Businesses, schools, and public venues, tend to have a great policy “on paper,” but the practice of that policy is often less than prescribed. Take a look in the mirror and ensure your team is actually following the task, condition, and standard set forth in their instruction. There is nothing wrong with discovering a more efficient process, but it’s important to ensure everyone is playing from the same sheet of music. Trust…but verify.
Promote a Positive, Personal Interaction
Greeters, information providers, security guards, or a receptionist who simply says hello to every person who comes near your venue is an effective yet non-invasive approach to promoting a positive protective posture.
The everyday human interaction resulting in an unshared concern is arguably the greatest underutilize protective resource. The psychological deterrence of a simple “hello” carries much more weight than the thought of “being watched.”
Human interaction elicits an immediate warning sign of potential harm. If a personal interaction triggers something suspicious, immediate attention can be called to the situation. This human approach is a much more practical application than the off-chance of someone seeing something on a camera.
Compartmentalize Your Access Control
Access Control saves lives. A venue’s ability to pre-determine where an initiation of violence must first take place allows for a venue’s protective resources to be allocated where they will be most effective — at the point of entry!
Keeping people out is easier than getting them out. Effective control over who’s allowed through your front door is especially important if — once inside — there is nothing preventing them from having free-reign throughout the rest of your establishment.
It is perfectly possible for a place of business to have an open and welcoming environment, while still curtailing free-reign throughout the entire facility. Banks do this well. While the lobby is relatively “open” to the public, few have access to get behind the teller desks, while even fewer have access to the vault.
Modernize Your Keys and Locks
The problem with keys is that they work all the time. Keys are cheap, frequently lost, and easy to copy. Keys don’t validate their user the way card readers and key-codes do. One of the best protections of key cards over keys is the ability to not only let you know who entered but who tried to enter and was declined. “Probing” is a pre-incident indicator of crime, and that’s a level of protective insight you just can’t get from a key.
Take Advantage of Social Media Intelligence Tools
Companies like Geofeedia have perfected a method for providing real-time, location-based, social media intelligence to small business owners, hotel managers, restaurateurs, and stadium security teams. Their products help to promote a better understanding of the social postings inherent to their specific location. This kind of real-time intelligence can be invaluable in helping a business to ensure that customer safety, needs, and concerns are being effectively addressed.
Identify Safe Havens
A safe haven is nothing more than a place you know you can go to be safe. Everyone knows if there is a fire to evacuate the building. What most people don’t know is where to go next. In an emergency, it’s always best to go from unsafe to safe. The parking lot fifty feet from the building may be a safe distance from a fire in the break room, but it is not a universal safety precaution from other threats that are just as likely to occur.
If you have the physical ability to run…RUN.
A moving target — especially one gaining distance with each step — is hard to hit. Take some time to talk with your staff about where you can all go for accountability, continuity, and safety should you ever have to leave the office in a hurry.
Even if it’s just to the Starbucks down the street, make sure everyone knows where to go and knows how to get there. Identifying safe havens is a lot like wearing your seatbelt: Often just a precaution, but invaluable when needed.
Designate a Dedicated Threat Assessment Case Manager
Threat assessment is about determining the likelihood of an expressed threat to escalate into a harmful act. It’s about distinguishing those who chose to alarm you from those who wish to harm you.
One of the biggest misconceptions about threat assessment is that it’s all about about that “one creepy communication.” It’s not. Threat assessment is about the “Totality of Circumstance” much more than it is about evaluating a singular communication within the framework of an isolated incident. All things must be considered: grievance; intent; complexity; insight; etc.
The past six months have seen a historic rise in the number of distasteful, threatening, and downright vulgar communications targeting business owners, media figures, and news journalists on both sides of the ideological isle. Social media has changed the threat assessment landscape forever. It has made expressing a grievance easier than ever. As a result, any business or person perceived as being aligned with a dissenting opinion is at-risk of becoming a target for unsolicited viciousness and vitriol.
Each and every inappropriate communication should be assessed, monitored and managed by your designated threat assessment manager — both from within and outside of your organization.
Identify a threat assessment expert you can call on for help. Your HR team is likely to be inundated with a myriad of priority tasking, and these expressions of grievance are not the concerns you want falling through the cracks.
Preparing Today For A Safer Tomorrow
Our collective goal must be to prevent these tragic outcomes from ever becoming a reality in the first place. Everyday vigilance is a small price to pay for the liberties and the freedoms which flow so freely from peace…but the burden is ours to bear. Everyday safety requires the participation of everyone. It is a communal responsibility. Taking a few moments to put a plan in place is often all that is required to prepare today for a safer tomorrow.
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.