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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Spotlight on Residential Security

The tragic murders of the Savopoulos family and their housekeeper in Washington, D.C. unfortunately show us how high net worth people are at risk to be targets of potentially violent crime. As of today, two persons of interest have been identified—one is a former employee and the other suspect a current one. As the facts continue to surface, we won’t be surprised to learn that this was premeditated, coordinated, rehearsed, and conspired by at least two individuals and possibly others. The main suspect has an arrest record that includes harassment, concealed weapons, theft, and violating an order of protection. The other suspect has bounced around from job to job, was fired by his previous employer, and had been recently hired to do odd jobs for the family. The checkered pasts of these two individuals fit the characteristics of what we see in many insider threat cases. An arrest record, unstable work history, job terminations, and access to weapons are some common denominators. And where these two subjects previously crossed paths provides pieces to a puzzle that has ultimately landed them as suspects in the torture and deaths of innocent people.

Executives Benefit from a Residential Security Assessment

After conducting countless residential security assessments for senior-level executives of major corporations, I have found the number one concern of these individuals is the personal safety of their families. In order to deliver the highest value possible to each engagement, I uniquely tailor the project to best serve my client by beginning with a framework for the assessment that is extremely flexible and adaptable to the environment. The structure then follows a developed and still evolving outline that leverages more than 30 years in the law enforcement and security fields and is based on four main pillars: 1) physical security, 2) technical security, 3) network security, and 4) procedural security. These assessments include an on-site security survey of the residence including the building, property, and its outer perimeter; the risks, threats, and vulnerabilities potentially impacting the safety and security of the home along with the occupants and guests; countermeasures and strategies for risk transfer, avoidance, mitigation, or acceptance; and detailed risk mitigation considerations.

A Prime Example of Insider Threat 

In 2008, the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) and the CERT® Program (CERT) of Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute collaborated on the Insider Threat Study (ITS) in the cyber security realm. The study focused on employees who committed illegal or unauthorized acts against organizations using a computer, system, or network, such as theft of intellectual property, fraud, and acts of sabotage within critical infrastructure sectors. This research found that current and former employees carried out insider activities in nearly equal numbers, many of these individuals had prior arrests, and a specific work-related event triggered the actions of most insiders—all of which are eerily applicable to what has been uncovered in the Savopoulos case.

How You Can Protect Your Home and Family 

So what can we learn from this incident to help prevent future tragedies? First, whether you’re the founder of a multi-million dollar company or a private homeowner, you need to know the people you come into contact with every day and, more importantly, have access to your home. Your list might include landscapers, cleaning ladies, nannies, dog walkers, and contractors, to name a few. Before any of these people set foot on your property, you have to ensure their backgrounds have been properly screened by their employer. If they are sole proprietors, they must provide proof of passing a background check and establishing legal residency, if applicable. These checks should not be more than three years old and should include, at a minimum, criminal history, civil litigation, and drug testing.

A professional and comprehensive residential security assessment will evaluate the technical, physical, and cyber security measures of your home. When you follow the recommendations of the key takeaways, you will not only help safeguard your home and family from a preventative standpoint, but you will also have a planned response and recovery to any type of nefarious event occurring on your private property. Corporate leaders need to be aware that danger is not only found in the workplace or while travelling abroad; it can also occur in their own backyard.


How Safe Is Your School? Security 101

While fall ushers in Indian summer, football season, and autumn leaves, it also means back to school for millions of students everywhere. Mixed into the list of school essentials like laptops, backpacks, and books is the need for security measures that safeguard the administrators, teachers, and children who spend most of their day in a scholastic setting. Since recent history has unfortunately shown us that tragic events can occur on any size campus—from universities like Virginia Tech to high schools like Columbine to elementary schools like Sandy Hook—we need to be prepared to mitigate the situations that threaten our schools and the people in them.

You Can Increase Security through Education, Awareness, and Training    

The educational environment is a unique culture distinguished by above-average attrition (e.g., students, faculty), high visitor volume (e.g., substitute teachers, parents), open settings (e.g., playgrounds, courtyards), and long hours of operation (e.g., day and night classes, extracurricular activities). While protecting people, property, and assets based on these dynamics is a formidable challenge, you can control risk through education, awareness, and training. Because your security is only as good as the consciousness of the constituents who occupy the venue on a daily basis, the best way to raise their security and safety acumen is by creating and maintaining a continuously updated education, awareness, and training program built by best practices and industry benchmarking.

It’s Time to Hit the Books to Build Your Security Program

So, what should go into your education, awareness, and training program? Start with training on: emergency evacuation, shelter-in-place, campus lockdowns, and active shooter. Then move to awareness material that focuses on visitor registration, restricted access, parking requirements, prohibited items, and student drop-off and pick-up. And round it up with educational content that offers information on drug and alcohol abuse, workplace violence, sexual harassment, and suicide prevention. One of the goals of your program is to stay up-to-date on emerging threats and concerns related to your institution, which can only be accomplished by continuous reading, research, and networking with experts in these fields.

Use All Your Resources to Support Safety in School

Technical security solutions such as closed-circuit television, automated access control, intrusion detection, emergency notification, and panic alarms should also be incorporated into safeguarding a school property. These systems working in combination with security-related policies, procedures, processes, personnel, and physical standards will produce the desired outcome—an integration of protective measures resulting in a holistic security posture. Not only is it essential to have all of these recommended security features, but it is also equally important that the appropriate people are properly trained on their use.        

Work with a Partner to Create Safe Schools All Year Long

You’ll feel confident to handle threats to your school when you feel confident in your plan. And creating an effective plan takes time. Start by identifying a security professional with experience in securing campuses and adapting best practices to your specific location. Of course summertime is the perfect time to evaluate and modify all of your safety and security policies, processes, programs and systems so you can roll out any changes when the school year begins. But you shouldn’t wait until next year to start your plan. You can schedule an orientation for your students and employees and inform parents, police, fire, and other external stakeholders whenever it feels right. Security is a 24/7 undertaking and your commitment to learning, teaching, training, and awareness should always be in session.