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.


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.


Hospital Security: Doctor’s Orders

Because a medical campus is typically an open environment designed to accommodate patients, visitors, employees, practitioners, and staff, many hospitals face the challenge of balancing the need to present a friendly and welcoming property with the right combination of security measures to ensure safety. They do not want to create a security climate where people are reluctant to visit the facility because they are uncomfortable or afraid. In addition to the basic fundamentals of security—physical, technical, personnel, and procedural—administrators need to develop an understanding and renewed focus on the security disciplines unique to hospitals and medical facilities.

Are Your Operations a Best-Practice?

The single most effective and proficient way to protect your hospital’s people, assets, and operations is a systematic, step-by-step, and holistic process that begins by supporting the security department. Our recommended program development reflects a strategic approach based on industry best practices in hospital security operations. And one of the first tasks is to benchmark your hospital with nationally recognized healthcare security design and risk mitigation strategies currently being implemented by hospitals of comparable size and geographical location.

An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure

A prevention-oriented methodology results in a higher level of situational awareness and emergency readiness. Prevention begins in the early stages of planning and continues daily through the acquisition of real-time insight into the operations of the hospital. Preventative measures need to be scalable, flexible, and adaptable based on dynamics such as emerging threats, actionable intelligence, or changes to the environment. This process can only be attained by ongoing coordination with hospital staff; adherence to security best practices; compliance with regulatory standards; and leveraging technology to mitigate risk.

Give Them a Taste of Their Own Medicine

Based on my own experience of assessing medical facilities, your two most critical points to address are visitor access control and patient management. Starting with visitors, you need to establish a structured management protocol for all guests, including family, friends, and part-time employees. A database with individual identifiers should be used to record visits and screen for prohibited visitors. Technology can be used to monitor and manage patients, especially infants and seniors. Because many hospitals are concerned with baby abductions and elderly people wandering away from the facility, a tracking device could alert security and trace their location if the patient attempts to leave the hospital without authorization.

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning 

Another security issue distinctive to healthcare properties is that transients will sometimes seek shelter inside the hospital. Some facilities are more tolerant than others and allow destitute people a safe haven, usually during the colder months. Although this is an honorable gesture, the result can be an increase in thefts and disruption in efficiency and workflow. Hospitals can maintain their level of safety and control if they provide some food or drink and point these visitors to the nearest homeless shelter.

While your security plan should address necessities such as alarm systems and security guards, you must also promote policies and procedures that control access and manage risk—in order to provide a best-practiced based security environment.


Arena and Stadium Security Requires Protecting People, Property, and Assets

The tragic event this week in Manchester, England at an arena filled with families and children attending a concert reminds us of the evil of terrorism. The attack by a suicide bomber was Europe’s 13th terrorist incident since 2015. As ISIS claims responsibility, it calls for supporters to strike anywhere and with whatever weapons possible—vehicle, firearm, or explosive—showing us once again that this danger is real with no signs of going away. My professional experiences have taught me how to effectively plan, prepare and implement multi-disciplinary security measures to counter this threat. Remember, security has to be right all the time, but the terrorist only needs to be right once.

High Profile = High Risk   

Large-scale venues, such as an arena in Manchester, stadium in Paris, or major league ballpark in the U.S., are prime targets due to the high volume of people in a condensed area. A terrorist who wants to inflict as much damage as possible to numerous victims is drawn to these types of facilities, especially a high-profile site like an iconic sports venue. Protecting buildings and properties this big is no easy task but risk can be controlled and lives can be protected with the right combination of knowledge, experience, and resources. The key to safeguarding a large piece of real estate is the strategic placement of security assets, which can only be learned from real world experience.          

Your Plan Needs to be Tailored, Customized, Reasonable, and Effective

After years of protecting large-scale operations and major events on a global stage with both the Secret Service and as a security consultant, I understand that a large-scale venue security plan requires appropriate countermeasures to mitigate the various types of hazards and ensure the safety of both the people attending the event and the operation of the venue. With that understanding, a security plan needs to be uniquely tailored to the environment and culture of the property. The Lake Forest Group’s security planning follows a developed and still evolving process based on the 35+ years of experience in law enforcement, security, legal, and human resources of our team.

The Six Pillars of Large-Scale Venue Security Design You Must Consider

The design, creation, and implementation of a large-scale venue security plan begins with an on-site assessment of the site to evaluate risk in six crucial areas:

  1. Personnel security: chain-of-command, manpower, staffing, posts, and supervision
  2. Systems technology: alarms, access control, cameras, monitoring, X-ray screening, metal detectors, and command center capabilities
  3. Physical security: fencing, gates, barriers, locks, windows, and hardware
  4. Processes: security policies, operational protocols, access control, parking, transportation, player/performer protection, crowd control, and guest management
  5. Emergency preparedness: emergency management, incident response, lockdown, shelter, evacuation, and relocation
  6. Liaison with critical third parties and first responders
Leveraging All of the Assets and Resources of the Federal Government

Given the current nature of the terrorist threat and the severity of the consequences associated with many potential attack scenarios, the private sector will need to look to organizations within the U. S. government for intelligence information at critical times. In order to offer you maximum protection, The Lake Forest Group works in collaboration with international, federal, state, and local entities to convene and schedule meetings; develop, write, and disseminate security plans, emergency management procedures, continuity of operations plans, roles and responsibilities of agencies and private sector partners, and counter surveillance plans, among others; and provide daily on-the-ground assistance to meet our client’s goals and objectives and produce a safe and positive environment for participants, guests, employees, and all in attendance.

A Preventative Protective Security Methodology Balances Ends, Ways, and Means 

Ultimately, successful security planning and event management focus on a preventative protective security methodology that balances ends, ways, and means, using the appropriate personnel to identify and assess targeted threats and create enhanced countermeasures to mitigate risk. The Lake Forest Group has provided trusted counsel and thought leadership to our clients by successfully securing professional sports and collegiate stadiums and arenas, corporate offices, industrial plants, commercial properties, government venues, entertainment sites, medical facilities, and academic institutions across the country and around the globe.


Stopping an Active Shooter Is More Than Run, Hide, Fight

Unfortunately, our country continues to be plagued by horrific active shooter incidents such as what occurred at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport last week as we remember those who lost their lives or were injured in the attack. Because of the constant reoccurrence of these tragedies, the Department of Homeland Security created the action phrase  ̶ ̶  Run, Hide, Fight. These instructions have become almost instinctive and such a key part of our culture that under extreme duress, such as an active shooter incident, ordinary citizens know how to react appropriately. And this knowledge of what to do will hopefully save their lives and possibly the lives of others.

Although I acknowledge the importance of Run, Hide, Fight, I also understand how much more needs to be considered in order to protect ourselves against an active shooter. Run, Hide, Fight instructs us primarily on what to do during an incident, but what also needs to be taught is how to prevent the incident from occurring in the first place. The year 2017 offers us an opportunity to pause, reassess, and look at two critical elements associated with active shooters—cause and mitigation.

Starting at the Beginning Is a Good Place to Start

After an active shooter incident occurs, the post-incident investigation traces the history of the shooter to determine possible association to the victims and the scene of the crime and often reveals a number of clues that show the active shooter was on a pathway to violence. Some of these warning signs include inappropriate posts or disturbing videos on social media, violent outbursts, threatening comments, and dramatic changes in appearance.

Because each of these incidents needs to stand on its own, we don’t have a universally accepted profile to identify a potential active shooter—so having the preventative strategies in place before an incident offers one key measure to mitigating it. If you know what indicators to look for and have access to professional assistance, such as mental health services, you may be able to determine if intervention is necessary. Any of these signs could be an indication of a much more serious problem that may require identification, assessment, and management of a potential violent situation by a team of professionals with a diverse skill set.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail  

So far, I’ve talked about what to do during an active shooter scenario (run, hide, fight) and the actions to take to prevent irregular behavior (identify, assess, manage) from deteriorating into an act of violence. A holistic strategy will feature all of these recommendations along with a number of other preventative disciplines in order to deter, delay, or deny the possible occurrence of an active shooter incident.

You can help to efficiently and effectively ensure safety and security with the proper planning, awareness, education and training necessary to respond to an active shooter. And the best way to implement these measures is to capture the essential processes in an Active Shooter Plan. The plan needs to be adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational and ideally prepares everyone for all hazards—natural, accidental, and intentional.

One Is the Loneliest Number  

A site-specific Active Shooter Plan, such as for a commercial property or higher education campus, is not created by one person, or even a small group of people. In other words, your plan isn’t written in a vacuum. A multi-disciplinary approach is required and demands collaboration between internal and external stakeholders that are invested in the process. Individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and experience can come together and work side-by-side to design a plan to mitigate this threat. In-house staff can include security, legal, HR, facilities, maintenance, and emergency management while outside constituents are typically contract security, law enforcement, fire department, medical, and local emergency managers.


Building the Perfect (Security) Beast

We turn to a consultant to help us with a challenge we can’t solve ourselves, to supply the knowledge and experience of industry best practices and regulatory compliance, provide a particular type of subject matter expertise, or to guide us through a specific project. While a security consultant is certainly an advisor, assessor, examiner, and evaluator, we can also ask him or her to modify, correct, enhance, and create safety- and security-related documents—specifically, procedural standards such as guidelines, policies, plans, rules, and directives.

Imitation Is the Highest Form of Flattery

If you could create a security department that was an industry leader with best-in-class operations, would you? Of course you would, but how do you know your program is better than the rest? What puts you ahead of your competitors and, equally important, keeps you there? Your success starts with the documents that reflect the mission of the security program while at the same time protect the brand of the organization. Ideally you want to benchmark against companies similar in shape, size, and footprint. If you work for a multinational corporation operating in multiple continents with a global corporate security department, then you want to compare yourself to similar organizations and their full breadth of the security department policies.

All For One and One For All

Employees are more likely to see security as a company priority if management visibly supports security efforts and initiatives. Consequently, a security program is most effective when people see it as an important part of a company’s goals and vision. Among the best ways to demonstrate that support is to include security as one of management’s core values and to promulgate official company policies regarding security. And as the most effective means to this end, multi-disciplinary involvement in the creation and vetting of these documents invites partnerships with legal, HR, IT, and employee assistance to collaboratively design inclusive and relevant procedures. A security department simply cannot do all this by itself.

Let’s Talk About the Nuts and Bolts  

Now that we’ve addressed the importance of building a security program through the “power of paper,” let’s focus on the specific documents needed. Applicable security directives and guidelines can include documents such as:

  • A clean desk policy
  • Access control procedures
  • Restricted area access
  • Visitor management
  • Background screening requirements

While physical security measures are critical, the access protocols and practices and the ability to screen and filter all personnel, services, deliveries, and equipment seeking access to the facilities and its environs are equally, if not more, important. The implementation and effectiveness of security systems, such as closed-circuit surveillance equipment, exterior and perimeter security systems and monitoring, and electronic access control systems, can be determined by the written guidelines and published rules giving instructions on the proper use of these technologies.

Training Is a Perishable Skill

The success or failure of a security program could depend on the training curriculum, security awareness information, and education materials designed not only for the security team, but also for the entire organization. Non-security personnel must receive ongoing and current training on safety-related information regarding emergency preparedness, fire prevention, and workplace violence mitigation, among many areas. Your best practice based security program should combine research, collaboration, institutional knowledge, and professional experience to produce training that engages people by providing practical and hands-on tools they can implement immediately.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

We adapt our policies and procedures to our needs and current situation. And the need for most new policies and procedures is driven by knowing current best practices and awareness of emerging threat scenarios. With clients in both the public and private sector, The Lake Forest Group offers you insight acquired through decades of engagements helping organizations assess their current security program—beginning with their written policies and procedures. From there, we can ensure that your corporate environment, financial services, international affairs, business operations, brand integrity, protective intelligence, operational protocols, budget execution, and human resources are built on a strong, best-in-class security foundation.


The World Series of Security: Protecting the National Pastime

As the last days of October are upon us, the Fall Classic—otherwise known as the World Series—has begun. And for the first time in 71 years, my favorite professional sports team, the Chicago Cubs, are participants. The Cubs and their opponents, the Cleveland Indians, represent the longest championship drought with 108 and 68 years respectively. While many people are watching lightheartedly, the security professional in me understands the World Series is about more than just baseball. It is a major international event with the eyes of the world watching, including possibly those of people with intent to do harm.

From the perspective of a security professional, I am thinking about the various disciplines that are required to help ensure safety, such as an event security plan, crowd control measures, emergency preparedness policy, and civil disobedience tactics. The planning and preparation for an event of this magnitude cannot only focus on the ball park, but also need to address the extended area around the venue. To emphasize my point, the City of Chicago in an unprecedented move, is prohibiting access to this area unless you are a resident or have a ticket to the game.

It’s Better to Be Preventative Than Reactive

By employing a prevention-oriented methodology, security personnel can minimize the potential risk confronting a World Series while protecting the brand of the event. They must first identify all threats and vulnerabilities associated with protecting the venue, individuals, and operations. Prevention-oriented security planning and risk management for significant events is a multi-faceted, highly detailed, continuously changing process based on absolute control of the environment. You need a disciplined and comprehensive approach to screen and control all people, vehicles, services, and equipment seeking access to the stadium.

Plan for the Worst—Hope for the Best  

The event security plan needs to account for access control, security, safety, and enforcement of the policies and procedures that discourage unlawful activity both INSIDE and OUTSIDE the venue. As one of the main requirements, your security plan must clearly demonstrate succinct and measurable processes to safeguard all assets, including the people, event, and venue. It is equally important to incorporate crisis management into the security plan and have specific guidelines to address all hazards, such as a field intrusion, power outage, or intruder. Coordination with the public sector is also a must, including contingency operations, emergency management, and incident response, to ensure that the event participants, as well as the attendees, are not exposed to risk.

Nobody Goes There Anymore, It’s Too Crowded

Baseball legend Yogi Berra reportedly once said, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” If you’ve been watching news coverage of the playoffs, you’ve seen the crowd of fans converging on Wrigleyville, the neighborhood around the ballpark. When you have large numbers of people in a limited space, the potential for crowd control issues, civil disobedience, property damage, and public intoxication increases. Examples of specialized units, local resources such as paramedics, riot police, and mounted patrol are called upon to incorporate into a holistic security posture to protect not only the venue, but also the people who do not have access to the event.

We’re Going To Party Like It’s 1908

History has taught us when a professional sports team wins a world championship we might witness a few incidents of overzealous celebration. Some of this fervent revelry has resulted in burning vehicles, vandalized stores, and physical altercations with police. The lessons learned are that security and law enforcement need to address possible incidents before, during, and after the event. Proper planning includes strategies for crowd dispersion, mass arrests, detention facilities, judicial processing, and temporary housing. Because local resources might not be able to address these scenarios, mutual aid agreements between municipalities are formalized to provide additional manpower, vehicles, specialized equipment, and office space.

We Can Strengthen Your Bench             

Do you have the resources, staffing, and expertise to plan, prepare, and implement a holistic security strategy for a large-scale event—or the “World Series” within your organization?  The Lake Forest Group offers insight acquired through decades of engagements providing protective security for organizations in the private sector such as Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), professional golf, horse racing, hotels, resorts, casinos, and gaming. We provide the necessary insight and hands-on advice that lead to tangible results—and help to ensure the safety of your constituents. Contact me at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out how we can address your particular security challenge—or share this blog post with someone who wants to improve their security program.


On the Outside Looking In: How a Trusted Advisor Helps Protect Your People, Property, and Brand

Being on the outside looking in can have a negative connotation but sometimes that’s exactly where you need to be. Just ask Donald Trump—he’s been positioning himself as an outsider during his entire campaign. Why? Because an outsider has access to other perspectives, can question the status quo without the constraints of things like corporate culture, and isn’t influenced by preconceived notions about the way something must be done.

Are you an outsider? If you work for a company, corporation, school or university, chances are you’re not. And if you’re not an outsider, you can’t provide a totally objective opinion on the effectiveness of your organization’s safety and security programs due to your involvement, relationships, and, in some cases, prejudice, in the operations of your organization.

Since most organizations do not have the staffing, expertise, and resources to conduct an assessment as detailed and comprehensive as is required to help to ensure the safety of your people, property, and assets, the best option is considering the services of an outsider—an independent professional—to provide an objective, impartial and unbiased opinion.

Priority #1—Protecting People and Brand

After conducting countless security and risk assessments in the private and public sectors, I have found the paramount concerns of my clients are the safety of their people and integrity of their brand. With that understanding, an assessment needs to be uniquely tailored to best serve that particular client to deliver the highest value possible to the engagement. My projects follow a developed and still evolving process based on the 35+ years of experience of my team in law enforcement, security, legal, and human resources.

Independence + Refreshing and Unadulterated Candor = Improved Safety

An organization can benefit from the insight and counsel that an outsider can provide if that consultant has successfully completed similar engagements. By leveraging experiences with comparable clients and organizations, a consultant offers an independent voice that benchmarks your operations with best practices in the industry. Someone with different experiences than you and your team can apply lessons learned to your unique situation and deliver an assessment report that identifies what’s lacking in your programs and policies so you can update, enhance, and improve them. In other words, the consultant can help you see the forest through the trees, or in our world, the vulnerabilities that leave you exposed to potential harm.

Establish Your Start Line—So You Can Walk Before You Can Run

The first step to an enhanced, updated, and comprehensive security program is forming a collaborative relationship with a trusted security advisor. A professional consultant can help you understand your starting point. How do you compare with industry best practices? Your competitors? Then after listening to your security and safety objectives, the consultant will work with you to deliver those specific goals to mitigate exposing your people and brand to harm. After all, you can’t know what you don’t know or don’t have access to. Even the most skilled athletes have coaches and mentors who offer them insights and suggestions to make them perform better.

Be Sure to Get What You Need

At the completion of a tailored, comprehensive, and strategic assessment, you will be able to clearly identify succinct and measurable processes to safeguard people and property—as well as incorporate incident management strategies with specific guidelines that address all hazards, such as internal theft, active shooter, severe weather, and power outages. As a trusted partner, your security consultant offers expert counsel on all security- and safety-related decision making you will face regarding your company, other companies, services, equipment, technologies, procedures, and personnel.

Take Advantage of Screening, Filtering, and Recommending Services

Think of this outsider as a de facto clearinghouse for vetting, testing, validating, and ultimately recommending options based on shared experiences in the law enforcement, security, legal, and human resources fields. Also, be sure the work is not delegated to a junior member of the consultant’s team with less experience. The listed project team members should be the ones performing the assessment personally, and ultimately delivering a service grounded in a higher level of expertise.

Are you ready to see how well you’re doing to protect your organization? The Lake Forest Group offers assessments (http://lakeforestgroup.com/services/security-assessment/) to protect against all hazards and to prepare for all kinds of emergencies. Our support goes beyond simple project management and vague recommendations. We provide the necessary insight and hands-on advice that lead to tangible results—and help to ensure the safety of your constituents.


Seeing Something and Saying Something: An Important Part of Emergency Preparedness

Last week, a series of explosive devices detonated in the New York and New Jersey area. No one was killed; however, multiple citizens were injured. The person responsible for these events was arrested after a shootout with police and the subsequent investigation linked him to possible terrorist organizations because of personal travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan. What is significant in this case are the steps that led to the identification and apprehension of this individual. The authorities working in collaboration with the general public were able to locate the suspect based on information provided and information received. Or in other words, someone saw something and then said something, which brought this criminal to justice.

Seeing Something

So what did we see? Specifically, a surveillance video of the suspect dragging a duffel bag near the site of the New York explosion, and the location where police eventually found an undetonated suspicious pressure cooker four blocks away. The person is easy to identify because a clear image of the subject appears in the video. From the footage, photographs were made available to the general public through television, social media, and the Internet. The “Seeing Something” component was in full gear and then it was time for the “Saying Something” aspect to kick in, which it eventually did.

Saying Something

Other critical developments were the identification of the suspect’s name through a fingerprint on the unexploded pressure cooker. Also, the cell phone connected to the pressure cooker provided some clues, including recent calls and the phone’s owner. In addition, electronic toll records showed a car to which the suspect had access was driven from New Jersey to Manhattan and back again on the day of the bombing. The owner of a bar in Linden, New Jersey, spotted the suspect sleeping in the doorway of his building and called the police as he recognized the subject after seeing pictures on television. It took 48 hours from the time of the first explosion to arrest the suspect.

Be Prepared

Being prepared is not just the Boy Scouts’ motto—it’s also important when it comes to protecting against potential emergency events. The steps necessary to mitigate the incident begins with identifying the event as a possible emergency (e.g., seeing) and then making the proper notification (e.g., saying). If your organization has an emergency management plan, then your people will know what to do when it comes to a potential incident, such as a suspicious package or unauthorized intruder. None of this can happen efficiently and effectively without the proper preparation, planning, and training necessary to respond to a crisis. And the best way to implement these measures is to capture the necessary procedures in an all-hazards emergency plan.

The Lake Forest Group offers an all-hazards approach to prepare for all kinds of emergencies. 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. An all-hazards plan provides a basic framework for responding to a wide variety of emergencies. Contact me at gmv@lakeforestgroup.com or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this blog post with someone in your industry.