Why Domestic Violence Is a Factor in Workplace Violence

You Owe Your Employees a Safe Workplace
Even as we paid special attention to this important issue during October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we know that domestic violence affects the lives of Americans every day. And due to COVID-19, domestic violence has become even more dangerous with a tremendous spike in incidents of abuse as victims are forced to spend more time at home with their abuser. We know that domestic violence is a factor in workplace violence and Futures Without Violence gives you several compelling reasons to address it. So what are you doing to protect victims of domestic violence and prevent workplace violence at your organization?

The Centers for Disease Control reports that alarmingly 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men have experienced some form of domestic violence in their lifetimes. In the U.S., an average of 20 people experiences intimate partner physical violence every minute, which equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually, according to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Domestic violence affects people of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status; anyone can be a victim—or perpetrator—of domestic violence.

You need to educate yourself and your organization about domestic violence in order to design an effective workplace violence prevention program that protects your employees. From defining it, identifying signs of it, and supporting your employees impacted by it, we’ll get you started—and help you incorporate the policies and procedures you need to ensure a safe and secure workplace.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in a current or past intimate relationship where a partner uses actual, attempted, or threatened harm to gain or maintain control by using different types of violence:
• Physical: intimidating partners with weapons like guns, knives, bats, or mace with intentions to injure, harm, or disable them
• Psychological: actions, comments, and behavior that insult, demean, or shame the partner, especially in front of other people
• Sexual: pressuring the partner to have sex or perform sexual acts they’re not comfortable with by force and without consent
• Financial: controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking a partner’s money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses
• Social: preventing or discouraging partners from spending time with friends, family members, or peers
• Spiritual: preventing participation, ridiculing beliefs, or using beliefs to manipulate partners
• Stalking: engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress

Domestic violence is about power and control. If someone feels they are losing that power and control over their intimate partner, they might proceed on a pathway to violence to maintain power and control. Domestic violence falls among the fourth type of workplace violence—personal relationship—which occurs when someone unrelated to the workplace but personally related to someone at the workplace comes to the workplace with intent to do harm to their intimate partner or anyone trying to protect that person.

According to the Department of Labor, domestic violence accounted for 27% of violent events in the workplace. Based on that statistic and those already mentioned, it’s likely that some of your co-workers, and your friends and relatives, are currently experiencing or have experienced domestic violence.

You can mitigate the threat of someone with a personal relationship to an employee coming to your workplace to do harm by understanding some warning signs of this type of violence:
• The victim could show symptoms such as increased fear, emotional episodes, and/or signs of physical injury.
• Victims, as well as perpetrators, could also show signs of work performance deterioration.
• You might be aware of threats or concerning posts on the perpetrator’s social media.

Additionally, workplace violence prevention training teaches your employees how to use their situational awareness to recognize the importance of “see something, say something”—and what that “something” is—how to and to whom to report concerning behavior, and how your policies and procedures protect them all. An anonymous hotline can make it easier for employees to report, a workplace violence policy emphasizes your commitment to employee safety and well-being, and a top-tier employee assistance program (EAP) provides support and resources for employees to get the help they need.

Whether you see signs of domestic violence at your workplace or not, you know it’s happening. Your safe workplace environment is built on all employees demonstrating compassion and understanding in a judgment-free zone where victims feel comfortable disclosing information to management without fear of reprisal, understand their access to medical and legal services, and are able to succeed in a workplace that prioritizes the safety and well-being of every employee. Your consistent goal is to support victims by providing a safe place for them to seek help, without stigma, the fear of losing their jobs, or experiencing negative consequences at work.

To ensure a safe and secure workplace, you must protect all employees from workplace violence and help employees affected by domestic violence:
• Implement a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program that focuses on protections for victims of domestic violence and includes training for all employees.
• Assure employees you will maintain confidentiality so they feel comfortable disclosing information to management without fear of reprisal, adverse effects on their job status, or retaliations of any kind.
• Recommend a workplace safety plan to protect the employee with accommodations for workspace, hours, projects, and escorts out of the building, among other things.
• Create a supportive environment so employees inform you of existing restraining orders and escalations in threats, violent behavior, or other information that could lead to violence at the workplace.
• Ensure your employees understand the laws in each state that specifically protect victims of domestic violence as well as applicable provisions of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
• Offer information on the EAP and national and local resources such as:
• National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800.799.7233, https://www.thehotline.org/
• National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 303.839.1852, http://www.ncadv.org/
• Futures Without Violence, 415. 678.5500, https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/
• Safe Horizon: 24-hour hotline, 1.800.621.HOPE (4673), https://www.safehorizon.org/

What Can We Do?
As many organizations are operating with a combination of remote and on-site employees, your workforce must understand that the new workplace extends to the home. More people than ever before are working from their residences or quarantined, and employers need to prepare for an increase in their employees’ need for mental health and domestic violence support. Accordingly, EAPs are responding to more requests for mental health resources and domestic violence hotlines have experienced an increase in calls. Virtual training allows employees to train from their homes and can increase awareness about COVID-19-related and workplace violence safety and security measures.

Safety Is Your Top Priority
Domestic violence thrives in a culture of silence. Workplaces and communities can support victims, their children, and families by working together to create a safe work environment through awareness, education, and a commitment to safety and security as part of a comprehensive workplace violence prevention program.

We’re Here to Help
You are committed to protecting your employees. We can help you determine next steps to create or enhance your safe and secure workplace, especially as employees return to your businesses or continue to remain at home. Contact Mike Verden at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to discuss what’s on your mind and visit http://lakeforestgroup.com/services/workplace-violence-services/.


Training Communicates COVID-19 Safety and Security in the New Workplace

We’ve all become familiar with the term the “new normal” because of the impact COVID-19 has had on our society and on our businesses. As people gradually return to their workplaces, they will find many changes as organizations ask them to adjust their behavior and expectations—and patience—to ensure safety in the new work environment, built in response to the global health crisis.

So, how do you acclimate your employees to the new workplace? Training, the most proven and trusted methodology, serves as the primary instrument for communicating critical post-coronavirus workplace information, such as safety and security procedural changes, to your employees. Because this public health crisis is unprecedented, many workers are anxious about the future and concerned they or someone they care about will contract this disease. Training can inform employees about the preventative measures you’ve implemented to protect them, educate them about risks and how to improve their safety at work and home, and make them aware of resources available to support them.

As the crisis moves from the response to recovery phase, businesses need to prepare people for their return well before they take their first step back into the workplace. You can accomplish this by communicating your training, education, and awareness information through virtual forums like webinars and videos to educate your employees on preventative measures, including social distancing and sanitization, as well as reactive procedures, such as quarantining and contact tracing.

Because security is more important than ever in the post-pandemic workplace, you can protect your employees by responding to this emergency as you would other incidents—by maximizing your security protocols. You’ll create a safer and more secure workplace when you take special care to design your security environment using best practices in physical, procedural, technical, and personnel security—and incorporating the unique measures that COVID demands.

Organizations will need to adapt their workplace by identifying COVID-19 symptoms, requiring face coverings, implementing personal hygiene requirements, and ensuring proper social distancing. The new workplace will incorporate unprecedented practices including, among others, temperature screening, COVID-19 testing, antibody testing, health questionnaires, and barring people who have tested positive or who have come in contact with someone who tested positive from the workplace for 14 days. When you clearly and consistently communicate safety information, employees will feel safe, secure, informed, and prepared when they return to work—and you can thank your comprehensive training program for that.

Physical Security Measures
The new workplace will incorporate hand sanitizers, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), hand washing areas, and surface disinfectants. You can also consider physical modifications such as reducing the number of access points, increasing the distance between workspaces, communicating procedures with signage, instituting one-way directional paths, installing plexiglass, and limiting elevator occupancy.

Policy and Procedure Modifications
The safe and secure post-pandemic workplace will reflect procedural changes such as limiting on-site personnel to only essential individuals, staggering work shifts and days, prohibiting employees from sharing equipment like laptops and headsets, and decreasing occupancy capacities for workplaces.
You’ll also need to consider modifying current policies to communicate COVID-19 protocols to visitors, including clients, contractors, suppliers, vendors, and delivery personnel, such as limiting the number of visitors, controlling visitor access to restricted areas, and providing escorts for the duration of the visit. In addition, your policy should clearly state that employees have a responsibility for reporting concerns to management and maintaining compliance with company as well as local, state, and federal agency guidelines.

Technical Solutions
Security technologies will play an important role as organizations implement virtual training to educate the workforce on what to expect when they return. Your training can outline how your employees will enter the building using contactless biometric access control systems such as fingerprint matching, retina scanning, and facial recognition to help avoid bottle necking and maintain social distancing. Training will also educate them about how contact tracing technologies, such as Bluetooth devices, global positioning systems (GPS), and card readers, record location and proximity to trace infected personnel to further protect them. Organizations can also train their workforce regarding manual contact tracing that incorporates sign-in sheets, work schedules, shift logs, and time and attendance documents. Employees, security, and management all have a vital role to play in your safe and secure workplace.

As many organizations are operating with a combination of remote and on-site employees, your workforce must understand that the new workplace extends to the home. More people than ever before are working from their residences or quarantined, and employers need to prepare for an increase in mental health issues as well as domestic violence. Accordingly, employee assistance programs (EAPs) have seen a spike in requests for mental health resources and domestic violence hotlines have experienced an increase in calls. Virtual training allows employees to train from their homes and can increase awareness about COVID-19-related and workplace violence safety and security measures.

What does your training curriculum include? Do you offer virtual sessions to communicate the most critical information to your employees—namely how to keep them safe and secure so they can be happy and productive? You can also consider addressing these topics in your best-in-class curriculum: clinical and work-life support services for employees and their families, policies and procedures that address workplace violence and support victims of domestic violence, and enhanced new policies that focus on access control, work from home, and OSHA requirements such as Duty of Care. Your training curriculum can further protect your employees at home and at work by focusing on workplace violence mitigation, threat assessment, active shooter response, and return to work protocols.

We’re Here to Help
The Lake Forest Group is committed to protecting your employees. We can help you determine next steps to create or enhance your safe and secure workplace, especially as employees return to your businesses or continue to remain at home. Contact Mike Verden at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to discuss whatever is on your mind in a free 30-minute consultation and together we can create a strategy that supports and prioritizes your employees.


It’s Time to Focus on Your Employees’ Mental Health and Security Needs

We’ve all heard about the “new normal” as states are opening up. But what does that mean? 

It depends on your responsibility in the organization. If you’re in HR or Security, you know as employees begin returning to the workplace, you face many challenges: putting physical barriers in place to ensure social distancing, modifying or creating policies and procedures that address safety and security concerns due to COVID-19, supporting a workforce that is dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety, and creating a culture of wellness at your organization, among others.

The organizations that top the Best Places to Work lists understand that employees who feel safe, secure, and cared for are happier and more productive–whether they’re working from home or at the workplace. These companies provide numerous resources to improve their employees’ experience at work and to ensure their well-being as they face the challenges of life, both professionally and personally. What have your employees been feeling for the last several months, as they’ve had to face, with virtually no notice, the disruptions from COVID-19?

Some employees could be dealing with loss of child care and the accompanying home schooling responsibilities, intensified alcohol or drug dependency, increased anxiety due to a spouse’s job loss or their overall reaction to the uncertainty of their own situation, and the tragic death of a loved one, whether to COVID-19 or some other illness.

Security professionals are concerned about these types of stressors every day, and, with the added uncertainty and anxiety caused by the pandemic, that concern only intensifies. When employees are dealing with life stressors in their personal lives, they bring those stressors to work, which experts tell us can lead to incidents of workplace violence—from harassment and verbal abuse to physical altercations and active shooter incidents.

Domestic violence is also a factor in incidents of workplace violence. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men will experience some form of intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime. The enormity of that statistic compounded with recent stay-at-home measures gives you an indication of how many of your people could be further traumatized by staying in an unsafe home for months with an abuser. Accordingly, domestic violence hotlines have experienced an increase in calls during the pandemic.

A recent article in Employee Benefits News (EBN) through partnership with the National Behavioral Consortium (NBC) discussed the importance of mental health services and resources. “We see work-life services as a prevention and early intervention tool,” says Stacie Westhouse-Milam, LPC, Vice President of Operations for Perspectives LTD, an employee assistance program (EAP) provider and fellow Chicago SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) member. “Everyday life issues can be precursors to more serious behavioral or medical problems. By recognizing the problem early, we can provide the appropriate counseling and address the issue before it spins out of control.”

Your employees depend on you to ensure a safe and secure workplace where they can do their best work. Begin your pandemic-related safety, security, and well-being initiatives by asking a security professional to conduct a needs assessment that identifies what you have and what you need.

  • Do you have an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides a variety of clinical and work-life support services for your employees and their families? 
  • Do your policies and procedures address workplace violence and support victims of domestic violence?
  • Have you created or enhanced new policies that focus on access control, work from home, OSHA requirements such as Duty of Care and recently released Guidance on Returning to Work, etc.? 
  • Do you have a Threat Assessment Team (TAT) to identify behavioral indicators of employees on a pathway to violence, tools for the assessment of threats and violence risk, intervention strategies, and relevant threat assessment research and statistics? 
  • Does your training curriculum include workplace violence mitigation, threat assessment, active shooter response, return to work protocols, and other measures to protect your employees on a daily basis and in an emergency?

Your EAP, HR, and Security teams can work together to ensure you are doing all you can to support your employees. Now more than ever during these challenging times, your employees need to feel safe and secure at work.

We’re Here to Help

You are committed to protecting your employees. We can help you determine next steps to create or enhance your safe and secure workplace, especially as employees return to your businesses or continue to remain at home. Contact Mike at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to discuss whatever is on your mind in a free 30-minute consultation and together we can create a strategy that supports and prioritizes your employees.home. 


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.