Be True to Your School: Keep It Safe and Secure.

With school starting this week in the city of Chicago, I was interviewed by Fox 32 Chicago about school security as school shootings have become part of our society as demonstrated by tragic incidents in Florida and Texas earlier this year. Some school shooters have posted material on social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram that in retrospect warned of trouble. Behavioral health professionals working with law enforcement, school administration, teachers, parents, and counselors can collectively assess, manage, and help individuals exhibiting signs that indicate a potential path to violence.

Since emergency events can happen anywhere, we need to be prepared to protect our schools against any type of nefarious incident, whether intentional like an armed assailant, accidental like a power loss, or natural like a weather event such as a tornado, hurricane, or snowstorm. And since most emergency plans rarely cover everything that might be required for an incident, the plan needs to be adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational.

Back to School
When it comes to protecting your school, now is the perfect time to evaluate and compare your policies, procedures, personnel, physical measures, technology, and training against industry best practice standards in security, safety, emergency preparedness, incident response, compliance, and legal requirements. A campus-wide security assessment can identify your current assets, staffing, and resources so that you will know if you are prepared for any emergency you might have to face.

You should also evaluate your technical security solutions to determine their effectiveness, such as closed-circuit video surveillance equipment, exterior and perimeter security systems, electronic access control systems, automated alerts, and information-sharing capabilities. Understanding your security capabilities can determine if adequate measures are in place for protection, safety, and security, if they are functioning properly, and if your staff is trained properly to operate these technologies.

Teach Your Children Well
Teaching in an academic environment is not limited to reading, writing, and arithmetic. Education in security includes awareness and education materials, as well as training initiatives to develop a multimedia approach that best meets your institutional needs. Emergency preparedness, fire prevention, and active shooter drills, among many areas, are examples of training specifically designed to enhance security and safety at your school.

All departments involved in daily school activities should work closely together to provide guidance and training in the areas considered sensitive to the well-being of students whether on- or off-campus. You can also offer presentations on subject matters such as social media etiquette, toxic relationship warning signs, and sexual assault prevention to students, teachers, staff, and parents.

Move to the Head of the Class
There is no singular solution to preventing school violence. An armed security officer and metal detectors are strong countermeasures that offer mitigation; however, other practices and procedures need to work in concert for your overall security program to be holistic. You’ll feel poised to handle threats to your school when you feel confident in your security. And you’ll feel confident in your security when you work with a security professional who can help you determine where you’re meeting industry best practices in securing campuses—and where you can enhance your current environment to reach a higher level of safety.

After you evaluate and modify your safety and security policies, processes, programs and systems, you can roll out changes immediately. Don’t wait until an incident occurs to start. You can schedule an orientation for your constituents—students, employees, contractors, visitors, and parents—and include police, fire, and other external stakeholders so you can work together and everyone understands his or her role in an emergency.

You Never Stop Learning
Training is a perishable skill and you need to keep educating yourself to stay up-to-date with emerging threat scenarios as well as the most current and innovative measures to counter these dangers. Training enables you to become familiar with individual and collective responsibilities in preventing and responding to an emergency. No single person is able to memorize every step necessary to take during a crisis; however, education, awareness, and recurring training will prepare you—mentally and physically—to respond quickly and decisively. Since most of us act—and react—differently in emergencies than under normal circumstances, training conditions people through simulated high-stress events to learn the appropriate response based on the nature of the incident.

In the event some type of incident, emergency, or other activity occurs that requires outside assistance, subject matter expertise in crisis management can provide counsel to your leaders and decision-makers for the duration of the incident. Experienced security consultants can participate as trusted advisors or active contributors, working closely with all parties including law enforcement, public relations, judiciary, media, and select stakeholders. This support ranges from preemptive to reactive, and your response can be tailored to the incident so that your programs, policies, procedures and partners will all work together to create a safer school.

We’re Here to Help
G. Michael Verden, founder and CEO of The Lake Forest Group (www.lakeforestgroup.com), is a former police officer, Director of Security for the NBA, and retired Secret Service agent with 21 years of experience protecting the President and First Lady as well as large scale events like the Super Bowl, Olympics, Inauguration, and national conventions.


Before Run, Hide, Fight: Prepare, Respond, Recover

Power in Numbers
With active threat incidents top of mind for many of us due to recent events and continuous media coverage, I contacted a select number of professionals in my network to ask for their insight on current best practices to mitigating an active threat, whether the attack came from a firearm, explosive, or vehicle.

Fortunately, my colleagues stepped up in a big way—thank you!—and I received more than 100 responses, a real testament to their dedication and professionalism. So in an effort to continually share relevant and informative content to help keep all of us safe, I have condensed, highlighted, and organized what I learned from them and now pass along their expertise. The key to mitigating an active threat comes down to three critical components: 1) Preparation, 2) Response, and 3) Recovery.

Run, Hide, Fight
Thanks to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the public is familiar with its safety recommendation of “Run, Hide, Fight.” Also the acronym “ALICE” (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) has become common language to many of our citizens. Both responses are dynamic and can save lives, which is the paramount goal of all emergency management planning. While this information is invaluable, it is not enough to craft a holistic approach. In plain language, you need to mitigate an active threat before, during, and after an incident and here’s why.

Prepare
Preparation begins with an assessment of current capabilities to determine the difference between what you have and what you need by reviewing the physical security measures, security technologies, policies and procedures, personnel numbers, emergency management documents, and incident reporting protocols to understand your level of competency. Based on this knowledge, you can make educated decisions regarding procurement as well as support to enhance areas not yet considered at a best practice level according to industry standards.

After determining the resources and skill sets internally (security, legal, emergency management, HR) and externally (police, fire, emergency medical), you can establish a training curriculum that will adequately prepare your workforce and first responders to coordinate and integrate your mitigation disciplines. Your training strategy focuses on how employee or student activities, building management, daily operations, access control, visitor management, emergency preparedness, and incident response work together to ensure safety.

Respond
Training can also teach how to integrate individual functions with multi-entity operations. You should ensure all stakeholders train to, exercise, and become familiar with response—because successful response implementation depends on the key measures necessary to mitigating casualties in the interval between the time of an attack and the point when first responders arrive on the scene. If properly identified, planned for, and practiced, the emergency medical and first aid capabilities of internal staff can also benefit your response efforts.

Response also requires a coordinated joint approach among response partners to deliver crisis information to ensure timely, accurate, accessible, and consistent communications across multiple stakeholders, to minimize confusion and dispel rumors during an incident. Messaging should take into account the challenges of your organization to ensure successful communication, including different languages spoken, hearing and visually impaired personnel, and technology used to share information. Also, you can use social media to distribute information rapidly to prevent inaccurate or misleading news.

Recover
Any emergency incident disrupts essential functions, services, and capabilities across an entire enterprise or institution. Even if the incident did not occur on your property, you can still be affected. Organizations, both government and private sector, located in and near the incident may experience disruptions of routine operations and/or loss of infrastructure or critical systems. Effective recovery planning and operations increase resiliency and ensure you can continue to provide essential functions and services after an incident.
Examples of questions you need to answer to determine your organization’s competency level for mitigating an active threat:
• Do you have memorandums of understanding (MOUs) or mutual aid agreements (MAAs) in place?
• Do your strategies align with the four phases of emergency management (prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery?
• Do you have a property-specific emergency management plan in full compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS)?

We’re Here to Help
Protecting human life is the paramount goal of any active threat incident. We can work with you to construct a tailored active threat plan that addresses specific areas of concern, like an active shooter or bomb threat, and provides you with a planned response and recovery to protect against all hazards, such as accidental (chemical spill), intentional (armed assailant), or natural (weather). Emergency preparedness is a 24/7 mission and we’ll partner with you to ensure protecting your people is always your top priority.


P-L-A-N: the Four-Letter Word that Keeps You Safe    

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” may be an old saying but it’s never been more important than right now. I have found that in my experiences as a security professional a plan is at the heart of every dynamic and efficient security program. A holistic plan in its most basic form encompasses multiple entities including forecasting, collaborating, coordinating, integrating, and pooling resources. These efforts effectively produce documentation that provides direction, instruction, and metrics that need to be followed in order to implement a collectively designed strategy and course of action.

Train the Trainer

Recently, I hosted an eight-hour training workshop on workplace violence in healthcare settings. With an audience of professionals representing various backgrounds such as emergency managers, security leadership, HR managers, and emergency medical personnel from hospitals, medical centers, and clinics, the workshop shared the step-by-step strategies necessary to prepare, protect, and respond to an incident of workplace violence.

The recurring point and major takeaway of the entire workshop was today’s favorite 4-letter word—plan—and how critical it is to creating a current and diverse training curriculum. A best practice based training program combines research, collaboration, institutional knowledge, and professional experience to produce training tailored to the experience level of your employees that engages them by providing practical and hands-on tools they can implement immediately.

Are You Ready For Some Football? 

As this time of year marks the kickoff to the college and professional football season, an effective stadium security plan ensures safety when its design, creation, and implementation address four main categories:

  1. Personnel security: law enforcement, private security, ushers, bomb technicians, canine handlers, emergency medical, and fire department personnel
  2. Technologies: video surveillance, intrusion alarms, access control, X-ray screening, metal detectors, and monitoring
  3. Physical security: fencing, gates, barriers, barricades, lighting, locks, windows, and hardware
  4. Processes: security policies, operational protocols, delivery operations, parking, transportation, player/performer protection, crowd control, guest management, and emergency preparedness

Ultimately, successful stadium security planning focuses on a preventative protective security methodology that balances ends, ways, and means, using the appropriate personnel and resources to identify and assess targeted threats and create enhanced countermeasures to mitigate risk.

All Hazards Emergency Plan Covers It All

The four phases of an all hazards emergency management plan embrace a shared understanding about exactly how to address these phases and their critical emergency-related priorities. You cannot address these priorities—in fact, you cannot take a single step forward—without having a clear, comprehensive, and detailed plan tailored specifically to the circumstances of the emergency.

Should an incident occur, a plan helps individuals and organizations understand these four phases, which can prevent injuries, save lives, minimize property damage, decrease liability, and help restore operations with minimal delay:

  1. Prevention/Mitigation: preventing emergencies and mitigating the risks of their occurrence
  2. Preparedness: preparing to handle an incident
  3. Response: responding to an incident
  4. Recovery: recovering from an incident

To get a complete picture of your security profile, you should schedule a professional assessment that will evaluate the technical, physical, personnel, and procedural security measures currently in place at your organization. You’ll find out what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to unnecessary risk as well as receive recommendations and strategic considerations with next steps to protect critical components of your business—especially your people.

We can also work with you to construct a tailored plan that addresses specific areas of concern, such as active threat, workplace violence, and executive protection, and provides you with a planned response and recovery in case the unexpected happens.

Do you have a plan or plans to protect your people, property, and assets? All plans start with an assessment to ensure your operations reflect best practices in safety, security, and emergency management and protect against all hazards, such as a weather event, accident, or intruder.

We can design a plan that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your people. Contact me, Mike Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group, at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this article with anyone who needs to create their plan to safeguard their business, staff, and visitors.


Residential Security: There’s No Place Like a Safe Home for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and millions of people will be leaving their homes to travel around the country and across the globe to spend time with families and friends. We like to think of this time of year as a celebration of everything that is good in our lives, but we still can’t ignore the obvious—crime doesn’t take a holiday. According to the Department of Justice, summer and winter vacations indicate seasonal patterns as the likely times of year for residential property crime.

These annual rituals leave many residences unoccupied for an extended period of time that could expose them to unnecessary risk. A vacant residence is an attractive target to criminals, especially to burglars who specialize in invading people’s privacy. With the proper planning, preparation, and protective countermeasures, this threat can be minimized and this risk mitigated. Protecting your private property begins with a residential security assessment, an integral part of your tailored security strategy that safeguards your family, property, and assets.

There’s No Place Like a Safe Home

Your home is your sanctuary, a safe haven for you to enjoy life, protected from the outside world. But are you doing all you can to protect yourself? A residential security assessment provides a thorough evaluation of the potential threats to the day-to-day activities of your private residence by independently and comprehensively evaluating risk to the home, property, perimeter, and the contiguous area.

In order to implement the security strategies necessary to protect your home and family, a residential security assessment evaluates numerous areas:

  • Systems technology: alarms, cameras, and fire life safety
  • Network architecture: Internet connections, wireless network, and ports
  • Physical security: fencing, gates, windows, doors, and locks
  • Emergency preparedness: safe rooms, evacuation, and relocation
  • Liaison with critical third parties and first responders

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

CPTED, a multi-disciplinary approach to crime prevention through environmental design, relies on the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts. Research into criminal behavior shows the decision to commit a crime is influenced more by the perceived risk of being caught than by the reward or ease of entry—so that means you should do whatever you can to make yourself and your home less vulnerable.

The three most common CPTED strategies are natural surveillance, natural access control, and natural territorial reinforcement. The following are examples of CPTED that enhance the protection of your home and property without dramatically changing its appearance:

  • A single, clearly identifiable point-of-entry
  • Landscape designs that provide surveillance, especially in proximity to designated and opportunistic points-of-entry
  • The least sight-limiting fence appropriate for the location
  • Windows overlooking sidewalks
  • Signage reinforcing property boundaries

Lights, Cameras, Action

Industry best practices recommend an external video surveillance system, Internet protocol (IP) platform, closed-circuit connectivity, digital technology, motion detection, and night vision capability. Your updated system will allow you to view the video feed though your phone, tablet, or TV, making it really easy to see the view from select cameras, like who is knocking at your front door.

You’ll also feel safer and more secure by being able to track movements in emergency situations, such as a trespasser outside your home. You can also easily determine safe evacuation routes and locate individuals in need of assistance. The entire or partial video feed could be connected to an off-site monitoring station or shared with emergency personnel, police, and other first responders, which helps them get there faster to help you.


Uncover the Secret to a Comprehensive and Dynamic Investigation

Maybe you know your employee is stealing from you but you don’t have the personnel in place to resolve it properly. Or maybe your company is expanding quickly, you need to add several executives to your team, and you can’t afford to hire the wrong person. Or what if an employee has been threatened by a former spouse and you want to protect your people and organization from a possible workplace violence incident. You need to investigate but how do you begin?

Let’s face it—practically any private detective or security consultant can conduct an investigation. What separates a rudimentary and traditional investigation from an innovative and cutting edge methodology is understanding and implementing all the resources and tools available in the security and investigations industry. And by combining a consultant’s experience, background, qualifications, and institutional knowledge with that methodology, you’ll uncover the secret to a comprehensive and dynamic investigation— that will keep you safe, secure, and compliant.

Power in Numbers

An investigation done correctly and thoroughly is a collaboration between different skill sets and disciplines that results in the implementation of the very best fact-finding processes, possibly ending in prosecution, but always restoring peace of mind. When law enforcement and security professionals leverage their combined talents and respective expertise, they acquire information that most private investigations cannot locate. A highly skilled investigator can get results that others can’t through knowledge, experience, and contacts that are not accessible through online searches. And those particular skills and access benefit you and your organization to keep your company, people, assets, and reputation safe.

You might need assistance with investigations such as:

  • Asset search and recovery
  • Background investigation
  • Background research
  • Court testimony
  • Due diligence investigation
  • Expert witness report
  • Financial investigation
  • Fraud investigation
  • Internal investigation
  • Legal deposition
  • Legal support
  • Threat assessment

By outlining the scope and specific objectives of the investigation, you’ll help tailor the engagement to fit your particular circumstances, culture, and business.

Pathway to Violence

When I was an agent in the Secret Service, we developed a three-step process for threat investigations, especially threats against the President, which The Lake Forest Group still uses today.

  1. We identify the threat by determining the person responsible and reason behind his or her actions.
  2. We assess the circumstances. What caused this situation? Does the subject have the means and the motivation for violence? Does the subject have a history of violence or access to weapons? Is he or she dealing with a financial or personal loss, marital issues, drug dependency, alcoholism, or some other issue?
  3. Working with you and mental health professionals, we collectively determine the most effective way to manage the person, which might include incarceration, institutionalization, counseling, or monitoring.

Most importantly, the person is continuously managed so that over time he or she can be rehabilitated and no longer present a threat.

Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor 

If your organization conducts business overseas, investigations of foreign entities may require knowledge of local laws, languages, or customs, which can be particularly helpful to a corporate compliance department and general counsel for an investigation related to a merger or acquisition. In many countries and situations, information is not available and accessible online or through a computerized database so your private investigator’s contacts in foreign countries can assist your investigation by retrieving information through an on-site visit to a courthouse or records building.

We’ll Help You Get It Done Right

We can design an investigation strategy that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—your people. Our experiences in the private sector provide you with an independent voice, benchmark best practices in investigations, and share the necessary insight and hands-on advice to ensure a successful investigation—that lead to the proper course of action and tangible results. Our global network of law enforcement and security professionals further supports you by allowing us to conduct investigations both here in the United States and internationally and utilizing expertise and resources that are not available to most private sector organizations.


Your Background Investigations Need to Do More Than Check and Screen

After conducting numerous engagements in both the private and public sectors, I repeatedly find that the top concern of my clients is protecting the personal safety of their people and the integrity and legacy of their brand. And as one way to safeguard your company, assets, reputation, and, most importantly, your people, a dynamic background investigation strategy in the hiring process offers a holistic security vision designed to protect against unnecessary vulnerabilities and built upon industry best practices.

When you make the decision to bring someone into the workplace, you need to know that you’ve taken advantage of the necessary resources and appropriate subject matter expertise to fully investigate that individual’s background—so that the people who work for you are the right people to represent you and your organization. You can mitigate exposure of your employees and visitors to potential workplace violence by exercising diligence through a thorough examination into someone’s professional and personal history.

Background Investigation Strategy

As the foundation for your strategy, you want to maximize the most comprehensive and effective combination of background, due diligence, and investigative disciplines available that go beyond cursory background checks. We base our recommended background investigation methodology on best practices, previous experiences, and ongoing research to stay up-to-date on emerging trends and innovative measures in the industry—so we can help you ensure that your background investigation strategy complements the overall security strategy you have in place to protect your people, property, and investment.

Building a Solid Framework

Because background investigations require systematic processes that can effectively and efficiently screen candidates for management and/or sensitive positions, companies must focus on the processes needed to coordinate these activities. You’ll want to tailor your background investigation program to best meet your security, safety, and risk mitigation needs and, at the same time, fit your culture.

This begins by building a framework that engages three crucial steps to collectively establish a background investigation strategy:

  • Defining the scope and nature of the elements to be investigated, which will include the verification and investigative due diligence processes applicable to standard and enhanced background screening categories.
  • Establishing a decision-making matrix that can be applied across your organization in a consistent manner.
  • Relying on a collaborative effort to identify and define the final components of your program. In other words, you need to determine what categories will be investigated such as criminal, civil, work history, education, references, Internet, social media, and drug testing.

Leave No Stone Unturned

An enhanced background investigation can be performed on executive level employees or applicants and employees being considered for hire or promotion in certain positions involving (1) access to confidential, sensitive, or proprietary information, such as financial, tax, or personnel information; (2) cash management, accounting, or inventory control functions; or (3) a high degree of trust and confidentiality. You can also consider other investigative tools such as personal interviews with the applicant’s professional and personal acquaintances, private investigations, drug and health testing, and psychological assessments.

A comprehensive background investigation includes a spectrum of criminal, civil, and due diligence inquiries. In addition to the areas covered in a standard background screening, an enhanced background screening includes, but is not limited to:

  • Asset Search, Bankruptcy
  • Liens and Judgments
  • Employment Credit Report
  • Federal National Civil Search
  • Media Search
  • Military Service Verification
  • Professional References
  • Social Media Query
  • Internet Open Source Material

Not a “One Size Fits All” Proposition

Every organization presents its own unique environment, along with specific needs and concerns. A background investigation for a financial services client will be different than a higher education institution. Because there is no standardized template for a tailored background investigation, you will need to adjust the scope of these services based on factors such as your geographic location, workplace violence incidents, labor unrest, and company expansion. For a background investigation to be comprehensive, it needs to understand both the needs of the client and the organization’s culture.

We can design a background investigation strategy that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—people. Our experiences in the private sector offer an independent voice, benchmark best practices in background investigations, and share the necessary insight and hands-on advice that lead to tangible results to ensure a comprehensive background investigation course of action.


Protecting Houses of Worship, Providing Security for Sanctuaries

No matter where you live in the world, a house of worship, whether a temple, church, synagogue, or mosque, should provide an escape from the evils of mankind. These sanctuaries offer us a place of peace where people from different social, economic, political, and ethnic backgrounds can come together to unite in their common faith.

Recently, even these sacred grounds have come under attack and been the scene of yet more tragic events in our country. When a tragedy occurs at a movie theater, school, concert, and now church, we learn that no place is immune to violence and we need to be acutely aware of our environment at all times. By learning from these past incidents, let’s consider what we can do to protect houses of worship and provide security for our sanctuaries.

Keep the Faith

On the day of a service, both employees and visitors of a place of worship can have a role to play to enhance protection. The congregation can be taught how to develop their situational awareness and identify possible threats and early warning signs of potential violence, such as surveillance, erratic behavior, signs of domestic violence, and indications of mental health issues, before they manifest into a much more serious risk. Houses of worship can also regularly distribute safety and security material to make people aware of relevant threats or issues of concern.

While ushers at most places of worship show people to their seats, they can provide information for a number of different inquiries. These people can also be the ears and eyes for a covert security platform. As people enter the building and once the service starts, they can visually observe the interior and exterior of the property to look for anomalies or suspicious activity.

Pray, Plan, Prepare, and Protect

Prayer is always good but it’s also important to plan, prepare, and protect against potential emergencies. The Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign applies here. In order to mitigate an incident, we must first identify an event as a possible emergency (seeing) and then make the proper notification (saying). An emergency management plan is especially important for a number of reasons. If you have a plan, your people will know what to do when it comes to a potential incident, such as the arrival of a suspicious package or unauthorized intruder. When your employees and visitors understand their roles in an emergency, they can help to ensure safety—which is only possible with the proper preparation, planning, and training to respond to a crisis.

All Hazards but One Goal—Keep Your People Safe

You can capture the necessary procedures to keep your people safe in an all hazards emergency plan, because an all hazards approach prepares for every kind of incident—especially since most emergency plans rarely cover everything that might be required. Adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational, an all-hazards plan provides a definitive framework for responding to a wide variety of emergencies and includes designated lockdown procedures, safe rooms, emergency exits, and relocation areas.


Top Tips to Keep You Safe at Your Next Event. You Bought the Ticket—Now What?

Recently tragedies in a variety of venues like the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Pulse Night Club in Orlando, and the Manchester Arena/Ariana Grande concert in England have shown us that awareness requires a 24/7 commitment to help us stay safe—because planning for a potential disaster is now as necessary as buying a ticket. Whether you are going to an event at a downtown park, outdoor summer concert, stadium venue, indoor arena, or smaller club, you must now add “what if” to your to-do list. We’re sharing information and strategies to increase awareness if you’re planning to attend or drop others off at an event.

Plan Before the Event

If you plan to attend a major event such as a rock concert or professional sports at a large-scale venue, you need to be prepared for many types of incidents, whether intentional, accidental, or natural. One of the most important things you can do is to familiarize yourself with the building and property and have a solid plan of action in the unlikelihood that an incident occurs. Because power outages, medical events, and acts of terrorism can happen, you need to be prepared if you’re present when they do.

Your commitment to safety begins before you set foot on the property or in the venue. From checking online for a seating diagram to familiarize yourself with entrances and exit locations, handicapped access, medical help, bathrooms, security, access to public transportation, and parking areas to monitoring social media for any negative or derogatory stories about the event, artist, or team, you can educate yourself about your surroundings—which will help you in the event of an emergency.

What to Do if an Incident Occurs

This place is probably new to you so look around and be committed to “See Something, Say Something” if you observe something happening that doesn’t seem quite right. And while you’re looking around, take note of exits and stairwells in case elevators or escalators aren’t working. A fully charged cell phone with a flashlight will help you if the power goes out and you can use a scarf or bandana to cover your nose and mouth in case the venue becomes filled with smoke or the air is otherwise compromised as well as a sling, bandage, or head cover.

If an incident occurs while you are at the event, you must remain calm so that you can listen for and follow any instructions that might be communicated over the PA system or by security personnel. Your pre-planning will help you navigate your surroundings now in order to direct your group to a safe area and away from the incident or a large crowd to avoid a possible stampede.

After you are safe, assess yourself and your party for any injuries because adrenaline driven activity can mask injuries. You should not attempt to re-enter the venue unless law enforcement directs you to move inside. Also, you should share with the authorities any pertinent information, video, or photos that might help in the subsequent investigation.

There Is No Substitute for Experience 

Our proprietary methodology for planning, constructing, and implementing event security has been designed, developed, and continues to evolve from my personal experiences in security leadership roles for the federal government with the United States Secret Service Major Events Division, where I helped secure the Super Bowl, Olympics, National Conventions, and the Presidential Inauguration. Additionally, my team’s project management background in professional sports with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) provides large-scale event security expertise.

Michael Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group (www.lakeforestgroup.com), is a former police officer, Director of Security for the NBA, and retired Secret Service agent with 21 years of experience protecting the President and First Lady as well as large scale events like the NATO Summit and the United Nations General Assembly. As a strategic security consulting firm, The Lake Forest Group offers you expertise in event security, stadium security, residential security, risk management, emergency preparedness, expert witness litigation, active shooter plans, executive protection, training, and medical marijuana security.

We can design an event security plan that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—people. Contact me, Mike Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group, at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this article with anyone who needs to create a event security plan to safeguard their employees, customers, and brand.


Stadium Security Plan: Are We Safe?   

Those tasked with stadium security face challenges from a number of threats—an airborne concern from a hijacked aircraft or a drone packed with explosives or hazardous material; a ground attack carried out by a vehicle transporting a bomb or driven into a crowd of people, similar to what occurred in Charlottesville; and suicide bombers such as the stadium attack in Paris during an international soccer match with France’s president in attendance. The possibility of any of these challenges creates a complex and ubiquitous danger for stadiums and the need for a holistic stadium security plan.

Doing More with Less

What really brings success to a stadium security plan is how well the stadium operators adapt industry best practices in stadium security to your particular situation—ensuring that the security services will perform before, during, and after an incident to avoid a devastating impact on your operations. Our recommended approach to optimizing stadium security starts with a security plan that leverages the most efficient and cost-effective measures for event security, emergency management, continuity of operations, and security operations. Working together, we’ll create, enhance, and update a stadium security plan that achieves the highest level of execution and results in peak performance operations no matter what challenges your venue faces.

There’s No Substitute for Experience       

Our proprietary methodology for planning, constructing, and implementing stadium security has been designed, developed, and continues to evolve from my personal experiences in security leadership roles for the federal government with the United States Secret Service Major Events Division, where I helped secure the Olympics, National Conventions, and the Presidential Inauguration. Additionally, our team’s project management background in professional sports with the National Football League, Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association, and the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) provides large-scale event security expertise.

Haves and Have Nots

A stadium security plan begins with an on-site assessment of the venue to evaluate the resources you have and those you don’t have, including: (1) personnel security (security officers, police officers, fire fighters, guest services, paramedics, and emergency managers); (2) security technologies (intrusion detection, card readers, video surveillance, duress devices, notification systems, and communications capabilities); (3) physical security (barriers, barricades, bollards, lighting, gates, and fences); (4) emergency preparedness (emergency evacuation, lockdown, shelter-in-place, triage, and decontamination); and (5) liaison with law enforcement, fire department, and emergency medical.

When the Rubber Meets the Road

Understanding your own resources as well as those of external support services, such as the first responder community, enables stadium leadership to construct an effective stadium security plan. The plan needs to account for access control, security, safety, and enforcement of the policies and procedures that discourage unlawful activity both in the stadium and on the exterior grounds. As one of the main requirements, your security plan must clearly demonstrate succinct and measurable processes to safeguard all assets, including the people, property, and brand. It is equally important to incorporate crisis management into the stadium security plan so that specific guidelines address all hazards, such as weather, accident, or crime. In addition, when you coordinate with the public sector in contingency operations, emergency management, and incident response, among other areas, you ensure that the event participants, as well as the attendees, are not exposed to risk.

Nothing Fits Better Than a Tailor Made Plan

Because I have designed and managed security for major events in both the public and private sectors, I benchmark stadium security against comparable venues as well as industry standards and apply my knowledge of best practice-based stadium security disciplines to each client’s environment. For a complete picture of your stadium security profile, you can schedule a professional assessment that will evaluate the technical, physical, personnel, and procedural security measures currently in place at your venue.

You’ll find out what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to unnecessary risk as well as receive recommendations and strategic considerations with next steps to protect critical components of your processes—especially where vulnerabilities currently exist. Also, you’ll identify what, if any, security and safety measures or systems are needed now or should be introduced at a later date.


Marijuana Security Strategies from Cradle to the Grave  

A marijuana security plan covers more than the time period from sowing the seed to selling the product. The plan itself plays a major role in a strategic security strategy designed to protect people, property, assets, brands, and, of course, marijuana. While architects of a marijuana security plan need to focus on the steps taken long before the cultivation phase and well after the transaction occurs, I can make the case that more time, resources, manpower, and strategy invested in pre-cultivation results in a more comprehensive, efficient, and effective marijuana security plan.

Seed to Sale

In the marijuana industry, the phrase “seed to sale” suggests that everything is covered, but that’s not necessarily true. You certainly need to address everything from growing to selling—the pathway, in supply chain terms. But supply chain pathway operations focus on much more, like production and logistics and the security technologies such as tracking and monitoring needed to coordinate these activities more effectively and concurrently. For the specific processes of seed to sale, the pathway follows the movement of marijuana internally at a grower/processer and externally as product travels to the dispensary and cash to the bank.

Cradle to the Grave

A holistic marijuana security plan covers from “cradle to the grave, ” which expands the range of security responsibilities to include product development (cradle), sourcing, transportation to the grower/processor, and movement after the sale, such as patient and customer safety. Additionally, security measures need to protect people outside your building who could be the victim of a crime because they are in possession of a Schedule 1 drug with a substantial street value. Also, you must ensure disposal (grave) of marijuana in a manner consistent with federal, state, and local laws so that waste is destroyed properly and rendered unusable.

A Chain Is Only as Strong as Its Weakest Link

A marijuana security plan creates clear, succinct, and measurable processes to safeguard product, people, and property—while incorporating supply chain pathway risk management strategies with specific guidelines that address all hazards, such as adulteration, contamination, corruption, theft, and diversion. The plan also should develop additional strategies for on-site protection from power outages, fire, chemical spills, trespassers, or criminal actions including physical security measures, security technologies, policies and procedures, personnel practices, emergency management, incident reporting, and risk mitigation guidelines applicable to the people, product, property, and supply chain pathway.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail

To get a complete picture of your security profile, you should schedule a professional assessment that will evaluate the technical, physical, personnel, and procedural security measures currently in place at your place of business. You’ll find out what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to unnecessary risk as well as receive recommendations and strategic considerations with next steps to protect critical components of your processes—especially where vulnerabilities currently exist. Also, this assessment will identify what, if any, security and safety measures or systems are needed now or should be introduced at a later date.

Nothing Fits Better Than a Tailor Made Plan

We can also work with you to construct a tailor made marijuana security plan that addresses specific areas of concern, such as transportation, storage, access control, credentialing, security officers, cameras, alarms, and internal theft, and provides you with a planned response and recovery in case the unexpected happens.

Do you have a marijuana security plan to protect your people, property, permit, and product? All plans start with an assessment to ensure your operations reflect best practices in safety, security, and emergency management and protect against all hazards, such as a crime, weather, accident, or utility failure.

We can design a plan that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your people. Contact me, Mike Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group, at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this article with anyone who needs to create a marijuana security plan to safeguard their business, employees, customers,  and assets.