To Stay Safe, There Should be a “YOU” in T-E-A-M.

While there’s no “I” in T-E-A-M, there should be a “U” (YOU!) and also an “US” in your security team—so that you can keep your people safe.

You need to surround yourself with a strong team with different skill sets that complement your own expertise so that you can create, enhance, or breathe life into a holistic security strategy.

Who is in charge of security at your organization? Do you have a dedicated security department that regularly conducts training on workplace violence mitigation and response to active shooter incidents, among other topics? Or is security another area added to the myriad of other concerns your HR department is responsible for? And if you are in charge of security for your organization, do you have the support and resources to implement the safety, security, and compliance initiatives you know you need?

Protecting Your People Is Your #1 Priority.
You must have the proper measures in place to protect your employees and visitors, a combination of technical, physical, procedural, and personnel processes effectively in sync to protect your people and warn against potential danger. Start with an assessment of your current security environment so you’ll know what you have and what you lack. And begin to identify people inside and outside your organization who have the skills and knowledge to develop and promote your security strategy.

There’s “HR” in Team, Too.
The scope of the assessment will include HR areas as it identifies the policies you’re missing from a best practice based collection—like an updated drug policy if your state has legalized medical or recreational marijuana, a domestic violence policy that reflects your state’s laws, and an Internet policy that clearly defines company expectations of online behavior and activity. You can work with HR to ensure you have all these as well as safe termination, code of conduct, and access control policies, among others. And be sure you are updating, reviewing, and enhancing them regularly.

“IT” Is Also in Team.
Some organizations give IT oversight of their technical security measures, security improvements might be under IT budgets, or at the very least you might have to coordinate with IT to ensure your alarms, turnstiles, cameras, and card readers are working and talking to each other. Your security technologies systems integrator will also be an important member of your team, confirming, among other things, that all your doors will lock during a lockdown, will deny entry, and will allow your people to exit during an emergency.

Get First Responders on Your Team
You should have a relationship with your local police, fire, and emergency medical personal, which means the first time you meet them should not be during an emergency. These professionals are integral parts of your security team and you can introduce them to your facility so they know how to access it, how many safe rooms you have identified and where the emergency exits are, and who they will communicate with during an emergency.

Plus Consultants, Mental Health Professionals, and Forensic Psychologists
Mental health professionals can lend their expertise to investigations of concerning behaviors that could lead to workplace violence. Forensic psychologists can play a leading role in threat assessments that will contribute to your safe workplace. And if you’re in need of a consultant who can serve as a trusted advisor, we happen to know one. Just call—we’re here to help in whatever way you need us.


5 Areas To Focus On In 2020 To Keep You Safe

You need an enterprise holistic security strategy that protects your people, properties, and assets. Now. Today. If not today then definitely in 2020. Even if you haven’t budgeted for any improvements next year, start envisioning what you want your organization to be like, create your strategy, write your plan, and then start implementing the goals and objectives that will make your vision a reality. These 5 areas will get you on your way to keeping your people safe.

1. Conduct an assessment.
An assessment will tell you what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to risk. It gives you a baseline upon which to build your strategy and reminds you to align your physical, procedural, personnel, and technical security measures. Plus, you will ensure that your security posture is at a best practice based level by benchmarking with industry best practices, similar organizations, and cutting edge initiatives—all combining to safeguard your employees so they can do their best work.

2. Evaluate your Emergency Management Plan.
When was the last time you reviewed your emergency management plan (EMP)? Or practiced it? Or trained your employees on it? Your EMP should be customized to your location, align with the DHS recommended phases of emergency management—prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery—and incorporate the titles and language of the ICS (Incident Command System). By following these directives, you and your employees will be more prepared in an emergency and able to more effectively coordinate with first responders during lockdown, evacuation, shelter-in-place, reverse evacuation, or whatever response is appropriate for the situation.

3. Enhance your training curriculum.
Without consistent efforts to educate your workforce about how to maintain and improve their safety at work, many of your employees will not know what to do in an emergency. And because training is a perishable skill, you need to implement a dynamic curriculum that encourages active participation from your employees so they can respond appropriately during all emergency events, including active assailant, fire, power outage, and weather. By empowering your employees to develop their situational awareness, they can also learn to identify concerning behaviors that could lead to workplace violence—ultimately serving as contributors to their safe workplace.

4. Update your policies and procedures.
Your policies and procedures are only effective if they are up-to-date, comprehensive, and shared with your employees on a regular basis. If they are sitting on a shelf in a binder, they might have checked a box at one time, but they are most likely outdated. Do you want the policies that protect your employees to be a secret? Or ineffective? From code of conduct, drug and alcohol, and social media use to bomb threat checklists, visitor management, identification badging, and access control, your polices and procedures exist to keep your organization running smoothly and safely—and you need to make sure they are doing their job.

5. Don’t be complacent. Strive for excellence.
Do you want to just be “good enough” when it comes to safety and security? Your employees expect more and deserve better. Your security posture is only as good as the detail and effort you put into it. No one can be satisfied with an EMP downloaded from the Internet that’s not updated with the actual emergency exits and safe rooms at your location—because your employees need to know where they are during an emergency when time is of the essence and lives depend on them knowing where to go and what to do. Update, enhance, review, benchmark, aspire, inspire, evaluate, assess. Your employees will thank you.


3 Ways to Make Your Workplace Safe

An effective, holistic security strategy ensures your workplace is safe for all employees. It controls access to unauthorized people, includes policies and procedures that establish guidelines for appropriate behavior and operations, and prioritizes safety and security in all messaging, training, and documents. So how do you know if the security presence at your organization is at a best practice based level?

Think about what you currently have in place. Do you have a security strategy that includes policies, procedures, and measures designed to protect your employees and visitors? A holistic security strategy covers all the bases by combining the strengths of an assessment, emergency management plan, and training—a security assessment identifies what you have and what you need to protect your people on a daily basis, an emergency management plan outlines how to care for your people in an emergency, and training educates your people about workplace violence, risk factors, and the proper response to different types of incidents they might face. Your objectives, budget, and timeline determine your next steps.

A Security Assessment Establishes What You Have—and What You Might Need
A safe and secure workplace reflects best practices in physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security. And they must all work together to protect your people, property, and assets. That means your access control system, cameras, duress alarms, and other technical security devices are aligned with physical security measures like doors, locks, gates, and fences—and that these security disciplines are supported by trained security professionals and policies and procedures that prioritize safety and security. A security assessment will evaluate your current security posture and offer strategic considerations for improvements to achieve a best in class security environment.

An Emergency Management Plan Safeguards Your People When the Unexpected Happens
You can then use what you learn in the assessment to determine how well your organization addresses the four phases of emergency management as supported by the Department of Homeland Security: prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. A clear, comprehensive, and detailed emergency management plan focuses on these four phases and their critical emergency-related priorities during all hazards including natural (weather), accidental (power outage), and criminal (active assailant). A plan tailored specifically to the circumstances of the emergency and your property helps to ensure safety for staff, visitors, clients, and contractors when the unexpected occurs. The plan also ensures coordination with local first responders.

Workplace Violence Mitigation and Active Assailant Response Training Creates an Educated Workforce
A holistic strategy is stronger when you educate and train your employees on workplace violence mitigation and the proper response in an emergency. By enhancing their situational awareness, your people can take a proactive approach to identifying concerning behaviors in the workplace to keep everyone safe. They will understand the importance of “if you see something, say something”—and what that “something” could be—and how your current policies and procedures protect them. By exploring DHS-recommended principles of emergency management along with Run. Hide. Fight., they’ll know what to do and where to go in an emergency.

A 3-Part Security Strategy Protects Your People
Each service can stand on its own with its specific goals and objectives, but their individual strengths combine to help to ensure a safe workplace during daily operations as well as in an emergency. Ideally, an assessment would first establish your overall security presence, the plan would tailor the four phases of emergency management to your specific location by identifying safe rooms, assembly areas, and relocation sites and coordinating with local first responders, and the training would help your employees recognize signs of concerning behavior and show them what to do and where to go if the emergency calls for lockdown, evacuation, or shelter-in-place.

When you learn how each service interacts and builds upon each other, that understanding leads you to more informed decision-making that determines next steps based on your budget, priorities, and timeline. While the ideal sequence is assessment, plan, and training, you may choose to manage the project differently based on your current capabilities. We’ll work with you to customize each service to maximize its effectiveness and provide options to assist your decision-making process.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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 [email protected] 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.


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.


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.