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 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 ( 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 or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this blog post with someone in your industry.

Turning Soft Targets Hard: Countering Terrorism

A Chicago native with more than 35 years in the fields of law enforcement and security, I have traveled the world as a federal agent and professional security expert. For the Secret Service, I conducted security advances for the President of the United States in South America, Asia, Europe, and Australia. My security consultancy work has taken me to Qatar, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, China, and South Africa. I have seen and learned a lot over the years, but one of the most dramatic paradigm shifts I have observed during this time span is how the intended targets of terrorists have changed. The recent tragedies in Paris and Orlando show us that any venue with a gathering of people is susceptible to an act of terrorism.

The Threat is Real

We can no longer ignore the fact that homegrown terrorists live in our country as was unfortunately proven by the recent Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando. Acknowledging that this threat is real and at our doorstep is the most important step to transforming your venue from vulnerable to defensible against an attack. Whether the building is large or small, the number one security and safety concern is controlling access to the property. Access control is not only about people entering the site, but it also focuses on how vehicles, mail, packages, deliveries, and equipment gain access. Different types of people—residents, employees, contractors, clients, customers, visitors, and service personnel—can be separated by their respective reasons for requiring access to the site. You will not be able to safeguard the property if access cannot be controlled and managed.

Emergency Preparedness is One of the Most Effective Counterterrorism Measures

A truly holistic approach to protecting people and property offers specifically tailored measures to control entry. In today’s world, explosives, for instance, can enter a building on a person, in a vehicle, or through the mail so you need to be aware of how this threat can gain access in these different ways. Security- and safety-related policies and procedures, such as visitor management and mail screening, can also assist in mitigating this risk. One of the most effective counterterrorism measures, emergency preparedness—with a well-designed and continuously trained emergency evacuation plan—ensures that all occupants know what to do and where to go in an emergency. Additionally, a commitment to continued education is essential to preparedness. Dissemination of information is also critical during a crisis, such as sharing the location of the intruder, or if the situation has been resolved, communicating that the area is safe.

There is No Silver Bullet

Since terrorists have attacked schools, churches, restaurants, and nightclubs, they appear to place no value on human life. If they have assaulted these sites, they can also strike a commercial or residential building. While there is no silver bullet or panacea to eliminate the threat of an act of terrorism, we can educate ourselves on the basic security fundamentals that need to be followed, such as identifying and understanding the physical, technical, procedural, and personnel aspects of your venue Based on my experiences of protecting such high profile events as the Democratic National Convention and the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, I know how important a well-designed and comprehensive security posture can be to protect against the danger of terrorism, an active shooter, or intruder. Simply put, your security and safety plans can save lives and safeguard property. Just be sure to partner with someone with the experience to show you how and don’t let cost and inconvenience keep you from building a best-in-class operation based on industry best practices.

Welcome To Safe University (SAFE U)!


Safe UniversityWhen the safety of your people is one of your top priorities and your college’s reputation is one of your most valuable assets, you’ll do whatever it takes to provide a safe environment for your students, staff, and visitors. High profile incidents such as mass shootings and sexual attacks at several universities have put the topic of campus crime in the public eye today more than ever before.

Conscientious and well-informed university personnel know that adequate staffing, multi-disciplinary involvement, sufficient resources, appropriate policies, and external support make these incidents less likely to occur—and make leaders more prepared if they do. Safe University (Safe U) partners with you to supplement and enhance your existing security programs by tailoring best practices to your unique situation and campus culture

Safe U partners with you to create a safe campus environment by ensuring current policies, procedures, personnel, physical measures, technology, and training are at an industry best practice level. Through coordination and integration for preventative security, emergency preparedness, and incident response, Safe U identifies the steps necessary to ensure that students, faculty, visitors, family members, guests, and friends are not exposed to harm.
Our Safe U program specifically tailors best practices in these areas to your unique environment:
• Processes: policies, procedures, plans, and programs
• Personnel: management, police, public safety, and security
• Technology: cameras, access control, alarms, notifications, and call/assistance station boxes
• Emergency preparedness: weather, fire, power, and intruder
• Education awareness and training: classes, exercises, and web-based
• Event planning and management: school-sponsored functions
• Background screening and drug testing: scope, pre- and post-employment
• Physical security: fences, gates, barriers, lighting, and locks
• Regulatory compliance: Title IX, Violence Against Women Act, and Clery Act

Studies show that although 86% of higher educational schools have an emergency operations plan, more than 1 in 4 have not had a hazard and vulnerability assessment to develop appropriate all-hazard emergency planning. We’ll share with you knowledge gained from safeguarding global corporations, high profile individuals, major events, and campuses around the country to protect what’s most important.


By providing objectivity through an independent analysis of your current resources, Safe U ensures a holistic security strategy by sharing the extensive expertise of our team. G. Michael Verden, CEO and Owner of The Lake Forest Group, is a global security expert with a distinguished 21-year career with the United States Secret Service. As a Special Agent, he served on the Presidential Protective Division, Dignitary Protective Division, and Counter Assault Team and assisted in the security and protection of facilities and people for major events, including the Olympics, Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500, and the Women’s Soccer World Cup, among others. As Director of Security for the NBA, he supervised security for the NBA All-Star Game, NBA Finals, and World Basketball Championships. Mike will personally guide the Safe U program to assess and evaluate your current security needs and provide options to optimize your strategic security plan and emergency management plan.

Why Training Is a Perishable Skill

I just returned from Singapore after conducting a three-day training workshop on counterterrorism entitled “Countering Terrorism, Violence & Emerging Threats.” My audience was a mixture of professionals from the public and private sectors representing such diverse backgrounds as executives, security leadership, law enforcement senior staff, HR managers, and emergency medical personnel. The main objectives and benefits of the workshop were to learn the step-by-step strategies to prepare, protect, and respond to a terrorist incident. I emphasized that acts of terrorism, ranging from explosive devices to active shooters, occur around the world—and could happen anywhere at any time.

If You Don’t Use It, You Lose It

Because emergency incidents happen quickly, police may not be able to respond in time to prevent serious harm to those present at the scene. Training enables us 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.

The Fab Four

By highlighting the four phases of emergency management as fundamental principles in my instruction and curriculum, I teach my students to embrace a shared understanding about exactly how to address these phases and their critical emergency-related priorities:

  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

You cannot address these priorities—in fact, you cannot take a single step forward—without having a clear, comprehensive and detailed response tailored specifically to the circumstances of the emergency. By helping individuals understand their precise roles should an event occur, training can prevent injuries, save lives, minimize property damage, decrease liability, and help restore the business and working environment with minimal delay.

The Times They Are A-Changin’

Exercises, awareness, and drills play a strategic role in your training. To minimize risks and maximize response and recovery capabilities, you need to practice. Also, you should expect your training needs to change as the level of acumen, resources, and emerging threat conditions evolve over time. Periodically, your training material needs to be reviewed and evaluated —internally, but also with the assistance of public sector partners and external experts. It’s important to continuously refine and improve your training program by assessing your security and safety measures in the context of other needs and objectives, such as affordability and practicality. By using lessons learned from real incidents, you can assure that your program content is current and reflects the most up-to-date training strategies.

Collaborate, Coordinate, and Integrate

Because involving external resources early and at every step in the training design process enhances the core curriculum, you should be diligent, proactive, and continuously committed to partnering with other entities, including law enforcement, fire safety officials, emergency medical services, and subject matter security experts. Training should address the diverse needs of people, taking into account the specialized needs of those with physical, sensory, motor, developmental and mental challenges, or limited English proficiency. By trying to find innovative ways to translate information into interactive training platforms such as workshops that engage your audience, you will teach the importance of coordinated action in crisis situations when individuals don’t have time to properly think through the implications of every step.

Super Bowl Needs Super Security

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl, which arguably has become the biggest one-day event on the planet. Other major sporting events like the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup garner worldwide coverage and enthusiasm, but those events are spread over weeks compared to this one-game world championship. Many make the case that the Super Bowl is more than just one day, and I wouldn’t argue against it. An assortment of events leads up to the big game including media appearances, corporate functions, and NFL-experience sessions for the fans. All this hoopla and global attention call for the need for unparalleled security measures. The Super Bowl certainly requires super-sized security and I’ll explain how to tackle this challenge.  

Strength in Numbers                                                       

An enormous number of stakeholders is involved in the creation, design, and implementation of a security plan for a Super Bowl. I have had the opportunity to contribute to the security plans for previous Super Bowls in San Diego and New Orleans. Based on my experiences, the best practice-based approach begins the process by identifying the entities associated with the event and separating them into the following categories: federal, state, local, and private. As the next step divides these groups within their respective categories, I will use the Feds as an example. Some of the federal agencies involved are FBI, Secret Service, FEMA, TSA, FAA, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and U.S. Coast Guard. This list is not inclusive and other federal agencies will contribute to the security plan.

It’s Important to Know Your Role

Continuing with the federal entities as an example, it’s important to separate the responsibilities of the partners that will be contributing to the security design. Here is what those roles could look like by agency:
• FBI—collecting intelligence, monitoring terrorist groups
• Secret Service—assisting with the creation of the security plan
• FEMA—preparing for any mass casualty incident
• TSA—coordinating domestic and international flights associated with the event
• FAA—implementing no fly zones for aircraft including drones
• U.S. Customs and Border Patrol—screen foreign visitors, airspace security
• U.S. Coast Guard—protecting the waters near the venue

These roles are a microcosm of the prevention, planning, and preparedness that goes into a security plan for any event the scale of a Super Bowl. Think about what is being done at the state and local level. The host city is tapping into every neighboring jurisdiction for support from police departments, fire departments, emergency managers, and county agencies.

Divide and Conquer

Another important piece to the puzzle is to combine these assets into a multi-jurisdictional structure that can maximize your resources. The committee structure has been very effective and allows for these different entities to work side-by-side. These committees represent various areas of responsibility, such as credentialing, legal, tactical, intelligence, and cyber security. For example, the Emergency Medical Committee will have representatives from hospitals, ambulance services, physicians, EMTs, emergency management agencies, fire departments, and the CDC (Center for Disease Control). One of the greatest challenges is to ensure every security- and safety-related discipline has been accounted for.

What Else Goes Into the Plan?

You need to establish additional security measures at the airports, hotels, practice facilities, air space, transportation routes, trains, and waterways. Security perimeters have to be created along with the screening of people, packages, and vehicles such as x-raying the cargo of trucks making deliveries to the stadium. Chemical and biological sensors will need to be placed around the site to detect any harmful gases. Fans will need to pass through metal detection systems and be subjected to baggage inspection and pat-downs. Counterfeit ticketing and ticket scalping will be addressed along with fake merchandising. So, as you can see, a lot of moving parts must be considered to provide a holistic security plan for an event like the Super Bowl. Just make sure your plans are super-sized.

High Stakes for High-Rise Security and Safety

The global image of every major urban area throughout the world is shaped and characterized by the tall and dynamic structures that pierce the city skyline. And because husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons spend their days within these structures, protecting human lives is paramount to successful high-rise security. The recent fire that engulfed a 63-story hotel in Dubai on New Year’s Eve stands as a real-world example of the dangers high-rise buildings, their managers, and their occupants face every day.

It All Starts with Access Control

No matter how tall or big a building may be, the #1 security and safety concern is controlling access to the property. Access control is not only about people entering the site, but it also concerns vehicles, mail, packages, deliveries, and equipment. Different types of people — residents, employees, contractors, clients, visitors, and service personnel — can be separated by their respective reasons for requiring access to the building.

A truly holistic approach to protecting the building and the people within it addresses all access control areas, individually evaluates each entry point, and offers specifically tailored measures to control access. While an ID badging system will filter and identify individuals once they are on the property, the loading dock for entry of deliveries and trucks and the mailroom used to screen packages require other means to control access. Some of the more sophisticated access control measures are x-ray screening, metal detection, and biometric readers.

Let’s Talk About Hardening the Target

Security- and safety-related policies and procedures, such as visitor management and mail screening, can assist in mitigating risk to a high-rise building along with these tangible items that can harden a venue:
• Property barriers
• Vehicle barricades
• Blast resistant window film
• Electronic locking devices
• Signage
• Card access systems
• Intrusion detection systems
• Video surveillance systems
• Lighting

These examples offer different options for you to consider when crafting the security posture for the property. Highly visible signs that inform visitors of the building rules, list prohibited firearms, or point to an emergency exit can increase safety and provide cost-effective solutions. More expensive items such as closed-circuit television (CCTV) are typically planned and allocated within a security budget. Regardless of cost, these areas need to be addressed to harden the property.

How Do I Escape From the Penthouse?

One of the greatest challenges of effective high-rise security involves an emergency evacuation from a floor higher than a rescue ladder can reach. Since most hook and ladders cannot go above the 10th floor, a well-designed and continuously trained emergency evacuation plan combats this logistical issue as well as other challenges inherent to building security. All occupants should know what to do in an evacuation and where to go regardless of where they are in the building. You must be committed to education and dissemination of critical information, such as the location of the emergency exits and shelters areas, if evacuation is not possible.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Additionally, you need to follow fire codes, test smoke detectors, conduct fire drills, assign emergency roles, designate floor monitors, select searchers, and coordinate with first responders. You must make current rosters of building personnel available, including handicapped and elderly individuals, and publicize basic fire safety “don’ts” like using an elevator, moving to the roof, or breaking a window. Be sure to recognize that information is your great ally—the more that you can provide, the greater the potential for a safe outcome.

How Planning and Preparedness Saved 80,000 Lives

We all watched in horror last week as Paris suffered a tremendous tragedy when terrorists targeted innocent citizens in multiple locations across the city. People lost their lives as they were caught up in the evil cast by these ruthless extremists. Could this be a warning of how our society is changing? These events were suicide missions somberly exhibited by the self-induced deaths of a number of terrorists. The radicals struck nighttime places of entertainment—restaurants, bars, a concert hall, and a sports stadium. This is the enemy and it is extremely important to understand that they are willing to sacrifice their lives for their cause.

Of all the targeted locations, the stadium was the brass ring. The planned strike entailed three suicide bombers detonating explosives vests inside the venue where 80,000 people were cheering on a soccer game between France and Germany. Authorities have speculated this site was chosen because these two countries represent Western Christianity and the venue offered the potential for a high body count. The actions that security personnel took to prevent this attack contribute to a textbook example of how security planning and emergency preparedness can save lives.

If You Can’t Control Access, You Can’t Control Anything 

You can have every bell, whistle, and the latest, greatest, cutting edge, state-of-the-art, innovative, protective security countermeasure or risk mitigation tool in the world, and none of them will be effective in protecting your venue if you cannot control access. The definitive access control strategy is a disciplined, thorough, and comprehensive approach to filtering all personnel, assets, services, and equipment seeking entry into the site. This paradigm applies to everyone and everything—from employees, part-time workers, and general public to vehicles, mail, and deliveries to drones, helicopters, and unauthorized aircraft. It all begins and ends with controlling access.

The Importance of Gatekeepers

A suicide bomber tried to enter the stadium 15 minutes after the match started. The security officer at the gate followed established protocol to conduct pat downs before allowing access. This security measure prompted the terrorist to back away from the gate and detonate a bomb wrapped with hundreds of nails. The terrorist was killed along with one passerby. About 10 minutes later, another suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest outside another gate, killing only himself. Approximately 20 minutes later, a third terrorist detonated an explosive device outside the stadium, blowing himself up but no one else. Security did its job and prevented what could have been a mind-numbing tragedy.   

Lockdown and Shelter-In-Place

Following the three explosions, the authorities responsible for securing the stadium and protecting its occupants needed to make some critical decisions under tremendous pressure. They decided to keep everyone inside the facility and not allow anyone to leave, determining that the stadium was the safest place to be considering the events in downtown Paris at the time. The people were eventually allowed to leave hours later, but the German soccer team decided to spend most of the night on the field. Mattresses were made available and the team slept inside the stadium until transportation could be arranged for travel to the airport. The site of what could have been one of the most horrific terrorist events in history ended up as a safe haven for a city under siege. 

After Action and Lessons Learned

Professionals in law enforcement, fire, emergency medical, emergency management, and security all advocate learning lessons from real world events. The best example is an After Action Report that assesses security and emergency management plans and documents what went right and what could have been done better. What was done right at the stadium:

1) Searching and screening (pat downs at the gate)

2) Access control (preventing the terrorists from entering)

3) Shelter-in-place (80,000 people kept inside the stadium out of harm’s way)

Lives were saved by the brave individuals responsible for safeguarding the stadium who demonstrated great leadership and decision making in the face of unfathomable adversity.