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/.


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.


P-L-A-N: the Four-Letter Word that Keeps You Safe    

“Failing to plan is planning to fail” may be an old saying but it’s never been more important than right now. I have found that in my experiences as a security professional a plan is at the heart of every dynamic and efficient security program. A holistic plan in its most basic form encompasses multiple entities including forecasting, collaborating, coordinating, integrating, and pooling resources. These efforts effectively produce documentation that provides direction, instruction, and metrics that need to be followed in order to implement a collectively designed strategy and course of action.

Train the Trainer

Recently, I hosted an eight-hour training workshop on workplace violence in healthcare settings. With an audience of professionals representing various backgrounds such as emergency managers, security leadership, HR managers, and emergency medical personnel from hospitals, medical centers, and clinics, the workshop shared the step-by-step strategies necessary to prepare, protect, and respond to an incident of workplace violence.

The recurring point and major takeaway of the entire workshop was today’s favorite 4-letter word—plan—and how critical it is to creating a current and diverse training curriculum. A best practice based training program combines research, collaboration, institutional knowledge, and professional experience to produce training tailored to the experience level of your employees that engages them by providing practical and hands-on tools they can implement immediately.

Are You Ready For Some Football? 

As this time of year marks the kickoff to the college and professional football season, an effective stadium security plan ensures safety when its design, creation, and implementation address four main categories:

  1. Personnel security: law enforcement, private security, ushers, bomb technicians, canine handlers, emergency medical, and fire department personnel
  2. Technologies: video surveillance, intrusion alarms, access control, X-ray screening, metal detectors, and monitoring
  3. Physical security: fencing, gates, barriers, barricades, lighting, locks, windows, and hardware
  4. Processes: security policies, operational protocols, delivery operations, parking, transportation, player/performer protection, crowd control, guest management, and emergency preparedness

Ultimately, successful stadium security planning focuses on a preventative protective security methodology that balances ends, ways, and means, using the appropriate personnel and resources to identify and assess targeted threats and create enhanced countermeasures to mitigate risk.

All Hazards Emergency Plan Covers It All

The four phases of an all hazards emergency management plan embrace a shared understanding about exactly how to address these phases and their critical emergency-related priorities. You cannot address these priorities—in fact, you cannot take a single step forward—without having a clear, comprehensive, and detailed plan tailored specifically to the circumstances of the emergency.

Should an incident occur, a plan helps individuals and organizations understand these four phases, which can prevent injuries, save lives, minimize property damage, decrease liability, and help restore operations with minimal delay:

  1. Prevention/Mitigation: preventing emergencies and mitigating the risks of their occurrence
  2. Preparedness: preparing to handle an incident
  3. Response: responding to an incident
  4. Recovery: recovering from an incident

To get a complete picture of your security profile, you should schedule a professional assessment that will evaluate the technical, physical, personnel, and procedural security measures currently in place at your organization. You’ll find out what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to unnecessary risk as well as receive recommendations and strategic considerations with next steps to protect critical components of your business—especially your people.

We can also work with you to construct a tailored plan that addresses specific areas of concern, such as active threat, workplace violence, and executive protection, and provides you with a planned response and recovery in case the unexpected happens.

Do you have a plan or plans to protect your people, property, and assets? All plans start with an assessment to ensure your operations reflect best practices in safety, security, and emergency management and protect against all hazards, such as a weather event, accident, or intruder.

We can design a plan that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your people. Contact me, Mike Verden, Owner and CEO of The Lake Forest Group, at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this article with anyone who needs to create their plan to safeguard their business, staff, and visitors.


Residential Security: There’s No Place Like a Safe Home for the Holidays

The holiday season is upon us and millions of people will be leaving their homes to travel around the country and across the globe to spend time with families and friends. We like to think of this time of year as a celebration of everything that is good in our lives, but we still can’t ignore the obvious—crime doesn’t take a holiday. According to the Department of Justice, summer and winter vacations indicate seasonal patterns as the likely times of year for residential property crime.

These annual rituals leave many residences unoccupied for an extended period of time that could expose them to unnecessary risk. A vacant residence is an attractive target to criminals, especially to burglars who specialize in invading people’s privacy. With the proper planning, preparation, and protective countermeasures, this threat can be minimized and this risk mitigated. Protecting your private property begins with a residential security assessment, an integral part of your tailored security strategy that safeguards your family, property, and assets.

There’s No Place Like a Safe Home

Your home is your sanctuary, a safe haven for you to enjoy life, protected from the outside world. But are you doing all you can to protect yourself? A residential security assessment provides a thorough evaluation of the potential threats to the day-to-day activities of your private residence by independently and comprehensively evaluating risk to the home, property, perimeter, and the contiguous area.

In order to implement the security strategies necessary to protect your home and family, a residential security assessment evaluates numerous areas:

  • Systems technology: alarms, cameras, and fire life safety
  • Network architecture: Internet connections, wireless network, and ports
  • Physical security: fencing, gates, windows, doors, and locks
  • Emergency preparedness: safe rooms, evacuation, and relocation
  • Liaison with critical third parties and first responders

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

CPTED, a multi-disciplinary approach to crime prevention through environmental design, relies on the ability to influence offender decisions that precede criminal acts. Research into criminal behavior shows the decision to commit a crime is influenced more by the perceived risk of being caught than by the reward or ease of entry—so that means you should do whatever you can to make yourself and your home less vulnerable.

The three most common CPTED strategies are natural surveillance, natural access control, and natural territorial reinforcement. The following are examples of CPTED that enhance the protection of your home and property without dramatically changing its appearance:

  • A single, clearly identifiable point-of-entry
  • Landscape designs that provide surveillance, especially in proximity to designated and opportunistic points-of-entry
  • The least sight-limiting fence appropriate for the location
  • Windows overlooking sidewalks
  • Signage reinforcing property boundaries

Lights, Cameras, Action

Industry best practices recommend an external video surveillance system, Internet protocol (IP) platform, closed-circuit connectivity, digital technology, motion detection, and night vision capability. Your updated system will allow you to view the video feed though your phone, tablet, or TV, making it really easy to see the view from select cameras, like who is knocking at your front door.

You’ll also feel safer and more secure by being able to track movements in emergency situations, such as a trespasser outside your home. You can also easily determine safe evacuation routes and locate individuals in need of assistance. The entire or partial video feed could be connected to an off-site monitoring station or shared with emergency personnel, police, and other first responders, which helps them get there faster to help you.


Uncover the Secret to a Comprehensive and Dynamic Investigation

Maybe you know your employee is stealing from you but you don’t have the personnel in place to resolve it properly. Or maybe your company is expanding quickly, you need to add several executives to your team, and you can’t afford to hire the wrong person. Or what if an employee has been threatened by a former spouse and you want to protect your people and organization from a possible workplace violence incident. You need to investigate but how do you begin?

Let’s face it—practically any private detective or security consultant can conduct an investigation. What separates a rudimentary and traditional investigation from an innovative and cutting edge methodology is understanding and implementing all the resources and tools available in the security and investigations industry. And by combining a consultant’s experience, background, qualifications, and institutional knowledge with that methodology, you’ll uncover the secret to a comprehensive and dynamic investigation— that will keep you safe, secure, and compliant.

Power in Numbers

An investigation done correctly and thoroughly is a collaboration between different skill sets and disciplines that results in the implementation of the very best fact-finding processes, possibly ending in prosecution, but always restoring peace of mind. When law enforcement and security professionals leverage their combined talents and respective expertise, they acquire information that most private investigations cannot locate. A highly skilled investigator can get results that others can’t through knowledge, experience, and contacts that are not accessible through online searches. And those particular skills and access benefit you and your organization to keep your company, people, assets, and reputation safe.

You might need assistance with investigations such as:

  • Asset search and recovery
  • Background investigation
  • Background research
  • Court testimony
  • Due diligence investigation
  • Expert witness report
  • Financial investigation
  • Fraud investigation
  • Internal investigation
  • Legal deposition
  • Legal support
  • Threat assessment

By outlining the scope and specific objectives of the investigation, you’ll help tailor the engagement to fit your particular circumstances, culture, and business.

Pathway to Violence

When I was an agent in the Secret Service, we developed a three-step process for threat investigations, especially threats against the President, which The Lake Forest Group still uses today.

  1. We identify the threat by determining the person responsible and reason behind his or her actions.
  2. We assess the circumstances. What caused this situation? Does the subject have the means and the motivation for violence? Does the subject have a history of violence or access to weapons? Is he or she dealing with a financial or personal loss, marital issues, drug dependency, alcoholism, or some other issue?
  3. Working with you and mental health professionals, we collectively determine the most effective way to manage the person, which might include incarceration, institutionalization, counseling, or monitoring.

Most importantly, the person is continuously managed so that over time he or she can be rehabilitated and no longer present a threat.

Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor 

If your organization conducts business overseas, investigations of foreign entities may require knowledge of local laws, languages, or customs, which can be particularly helpful to a corporate compliance department and general counsel for an investigation related to a merger or acquisition. In many countries and situations, information is not available and accessible online or through a computerized database so your private investigator’s contacts in foreign countries can assist your investigation by retrieving information through an on-site visit to a courthouse or records building.

We’ll Help You Get It Done Right

We can design an investigation strategy that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—your people. Our experiences in the private sector provide you with an independent voice, benchmark best practices in investigations, and share the necessary insight and hands-on advice to ensure a successful investigation—that lead to the proper course of action and tangible results. Our global network of law enforcement and security professionals further supports you by allowing us to conduct investigations both here in the United States and internationally and utilizing expertise and resources that are not available to most private sector organizations.


Your Background Investigations Need to Do More Than Check and Screen

After conducting numerous engagements in both the private and public sectors, I repeatedly find that the top concern of my clients is protecting the personal safety of their people and the integrity and legacy of their brand. And as one way to safeguard your company, assets, reputation, and, most importantly, your people, a dynamic background investigation strategy in the hiring process offers a holistic security vision designed to protect against unnecessary vulnerabilities and built upon industry best practices.

When you make the decision to bring someone into the workplace, you need to know that you’ve taken advantage of the necessary resources and appropriate subject matter expertise to fully investigate that individual’s background—so that the people who work for you are the right people to represent you and your organization. You can mitigate exposure of your employees and visitors to potential workplace violence by exercising diligence through a thorough examination into someone’s professional and personal history.

Background Investigation Strategy

As the foundation for your strategy, you want to maximize the most comprehensive and effective combination of background, due diligence, and investigative disciplines available that go beyond cursory background checks. We base our recommended background investigation methodology on best practices, previous experiences, and ongoing research to stay up-to-date on emerging trends and innovative measures in the industry—so we can help you ensure that your background investigation strategy complements the overall security strategy you have in place to protect your people, property, and investment.

Building a Solid Framework

Because background investigations require systematic processes that can effectively and efficiently screen candidates for management and/or sensitive positions, companies must focus on the processes needed to coordinate these activities. You’ll want to tailor your background investigation program to best meet your security, safety, and risk mitigation needs and, at the same time, fit your culture.

This begins by building a framework that engages three crucial steps to collectively establish a background investigation strategy:

  • Defining the scope and nature of the elements to be investigated, which will include the verification and investigative due diligence processes applicable to standard and enhanced background screening categories.
  • Establishing a decision-making matrix that can be applied across your organization in a consistent manner.
  • Relying on a collaborative effort to identify and define the final components of your program. In other words, you need to determine what categories will be investigated such as criminal, civil, work history, education, references, Internet, social media, and drug testing.

Leave No Stone Unturned

An enhanced background investigation can be performed on executive level employees or applicants and employees being considered for hire or promotion in certain positions involving (1) access to confidential, sensitive, or proprietary information, such as financial, tax, or personnel information; (2) cash management, accounting, or inventory control functions; or (3) a high degree of trust and confidentiality. You can also consider other investigative tools such as personal interviews with the applicant’s professional and personal acquaintances, private investigations, drug and health testing, and psychological assessments.

A comprehensive background investigation includes a spectrum of criminal, civil, and due diligence inquiries. In addition to the areas covered in a standard background screening, an enhanced background screening includes, but is not limited to:

  • Asset Search, Bankruptcy
  • Liens and Judgments
  • Employment Credit Report
  • Federal National Civil Search
  • Media Search
  • Military Service Verification
  • Professional References
  • Social Media Query
  • Internet Open Source Material

Not a “One Size Fits All” Proposition

Every organization presents its own unique environment, along with specific needs and concerns. A background investigation for a financial services client will be different than a higher education institution. Because there is no standardized template for a tailored background investigation, you will need to adjust the scope of these services based on factors such as your geographic location, workplace violence incidents, labor unrest, and company expansion. For a background investigation to be comprehensive, it needs to understand both the needs of the client and the organization’s culture.

We can design a background investigation strategy that’s right for your culture and, most importantly, protects your most valuable assets—people. Our experiences in the private sector offer an independent voice, benchmark best practices in background investigations, and share the necessary insight and hands-on advice that lead to tangible results to ensure a comprehensive background investigation course of action.


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.