On the Outside Looking In: How a Trusted Advisor Helps Protect Your People, Property, and Brand

Being on the outside looking in can have a negative connotation but sometimes that’s exactly where you need to be. Just ask Donald Trump—he’s been positioning himself as an outsider during his entire campaign. Why? Because an outsider has access to other perspectives, can question the status quo without the constraints of things like corporate culture, and isn’t influenced by preconceived notions about the way something must be done.

Are you an outsider? If you work for a company, corporation, school or university, chances are you’re not. And if you’re not an outsider, you can’t provide a totally objective opinion on the effectiveness of your organization’s safety and security programs due to your involvement, relationships, and, in some cases, prejudice, in the operations of your organization.

Since most organizations do not have the staffing, expertise, and resources to conduct an assessment as detailed and comprehensive as is required to help to ensure the safety of your people, property, and assets, the best option is considering the services of an outsider—an independent professional—to provide an objective, impartial and unbiased opinion.

Priority #1—Protecting People and Brand

After conducting countless security and risk assessments in the private and public sectors, I have found the paramount concerns of my clients are the safety of their people and integrity of their brand. With that understanding, an assessment needs to be uniquely tailored to best serve that particular client to deliver the highest value possible to the engagement. My projects follow a developed and still evolving process based on the 35+ years of experience of my team in law enforcement, security, legal, and human resources.

Independence + Refreshing and Unadulterated Candor = Improved Safety

An organization can benefit from the insight and counsel that an outsider can provide if that consultant has successfully completed similar engagements. By leveraging experiences with comparable clients and organizations, a consultant offers an independent voice that benchmarks your operations with best practices in the industry. Someone with different experiences than you and your team can apply lessons learned to your unique situation and deliver an assessment report that identifies what’s lacking in your programs and policies so you can update, enhance, and improve them. In other words, the consultant can help you see the forest through the trees, or in our world, the vulnerabilities that leave you exposed to potential harm.

Establish Your Start Line—So You Can Walk Before You Can Run

The first step to an enhanced, updated, and comprehensive security program is forming a collaborative relationship with a trusted security advisor. A professional consultant can help you understand your starting point. How do you compare with industry best practices? Your competitors? Then after listening to your security and safety objectives, the consultant will work with you to deliver those specific goals to mitigate exposing your people and brand to harm. After all, you can’t know what you don’t know or don’t have access to. Even the most skilled athletes have coaches and mentors who offer them insights and suggestions to make them perform better.

Be Sure to Get What You Need

At the completion of a tailored, comprehensive, and strategic assessment, you will be able to clearly identify succinct and measurable processes to safeguard people and property—as well as incorporate incident management strategies with specific guidelines that address all hazards, such as internal theft, active shooter, severe weather, and power outages. As a trusted partner, your security consultant offers expert counsel on all security- and safety-related decision making you will face regarding your company, other companies, services, equipment, technologies, procedures, and personnel.

Take Advantage of Screening, Filtering, and Recommending Services

Think of this outsider as a de facto clearinghouse for vetting, testing, validating, and ultimately recommending options based on shared experiences in the law enforcement, security, legal, and human resources fields. Also, be sure the work is not delegated to a junior member of the consultant’s team with less experience. The listed project team members should be the ones performing the assessment personally, and ultimately delivering a service grounded in a higher level of expertise.

Are you ready to see how well you’re doing to protect your organization? The Lake Forest Group offers assessments (http://lakeforestgroup.com/services/security-assessment/) to protect against all hazards and to prepare for all kinds of emergencies. Our support goes beyond simple project management and vague recommendations. We provide the necessary insight and hands-on advice that lead to tangible results—and help to ensure the safety of your constituents.

Seeing Something and Saying Something: An Important Part of Emergency Preparedness

Last week, a series of explosive devices detonated in the New York and New Jersey area. No one was killed; however, multiple citizens were injured. The person responsible for these events was arrested after a shootout with police and the subsequent investigation linked him to possible terrorist organizations because of personal travel to Pakistan and Afghanistan. What is significant in this case are the steps that led to the identification and apprehension of this individual. The authorities working in collaboration with the general public were able to locate the suspect based on information provided and information received. Or in other words, someone saw something and then said something, which brought this criminal to justice.

Seeing Something

So what did we see? Specifically, a surveillance video of the suspect dragging a duffel bag near the site of the New York explosion, and the location where police eventually found an undetonated suspicious pressure cooker four blocks away. The person is easy to identify because a clear image of the subject appears in the video. From the footage, photographs were made available to the general public through television, social media, and the Internet. The “Seeing Something” component was in full gear and then it was time for the “Saying Something” aspect to kick in, which it eventually did.

Saying Something

Other critical developments were the identification of the suspect’s name through a fingerprint on the unexploded pressure cooker. Also, the cell phone connected to the pressure cooker provided some clues, including recent calls and the phone’s owner. In addition, electronic toll records showed a car to which the suspect had access was driven from New Jersey to Manhattan and back again on the day of the bombing. The owner of a bar in Linden, New Jersey, spotted the suspect sleeping in the doorway of his building and called the police as he recognized the subject after seeing pictures on television. It took 48 hours from the time of the first explosion to arrest the suspect.

Be Prepared

Being prepared is not just the Boy Scouts’ motto—it’s also important when it comes to protecting against potential emergency events. The steps necessary to mitigate the incident begins with identifying the event as a possible emergency (e.g., seeing) and then making the proper notification (e.g., saying). If your organization has an emergency management plan, then your people will know what to do when it comes to a potential incident, such as a suspicious package or unauthorized intruder. None of this can happen efficiently and effectively without the proper preparation, planning, and training necessary to respond to a crisis. And the best way to implement these measures is to capture the necessary procedures in an all-hazards emergency plan.

The Lake Forest Group offers an all-hazards approach to prepare for all kinds of emergencies. Since most emergency plans rarely cover everything that might be required for an incident, the plan needs to be adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational. An all-hazards plan provides a basic framework for responding to a wide variety of emergencies. Contact me at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 to find out more—or share this blog post with someone in your industry.

Turning Soft Targets Hard: Countering Terrorism

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

The Threat is Real

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

Emergency Preparedness is One of the Most Effective Counterterrorism Measures

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

There is No Silver Bullet

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

Welcome To Safe University (SAFE U)!


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

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

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

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


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

Why Training Is a Perishable Skill

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

If You Don’t Use It, You Lose It

Because emergency incidents happen quickly, police may not be able to respond in time to prevent serious harm to those present at the scene. Training enables us to become familiar with individual and collective responsibilities in preventing and responding to an emergency. No single person is able to memorize every step necessary to take during a crisis; however, education, awareness, and recurring training will prepare you—mentally and physically—to respond quickly and decisively. Since most of us act—and react—differently in emergencies than under normal circumstances, training conditions people through simulated high-stress events to learn the appropriate response based on the nature of the incident.

The Fab Four

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

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

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

The Times They Are A-Changin’

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

Collaborate, Coordinate, and Integrate

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

Court Storming: Who’ll Stop the Rain?

With March Madness in full swing and the NBA season winding down, it’s a good time to take a closer look at the cultural phenomenon known as court storming. In light of what recently transpired at some NCAA conference tournament games, court storming seems to rank high on the list of collegiate experiences, along with tailgating, toga parties, and beer pong. It is important to understand that court storming cannot be stopped, but it can be controlled.

As a former Director of Security for the NBA, I was only seriously concerned about this crowd control issue during the NBA Finals and, more specifically, following the deciding game for the championship. Because any post-game revelry was a serious security and safety concern, we took the appropriate steps to prepare for this occurrence. With the proper preparation and contingencies in place, risk to the players, coaches, staffs, employees, and spectators can be mitigated.

Strength in Numbers

The first step in planning for this event was training our security and ushers to protect the court. Prior to the opening of the gates, we assembled all of our event personnel and rehearsed how we would secure the floor. The plan centered around two perimeters—an outer to control access to the court and an inner to protect the teams and their family members. We used a nylon rope as a barricade that we extended around the entire court as soon as the game ended. Serving as rope holders, security and usher staff were repositioned from their assigned posts. In order to effectively exercise our plan, we made the determination to pool our resources and reallocate our assets to the floor. I am a strong advocate of strength in numbers because when you have an arena filled with 18,000 fans, you have to be equipped to stem the tide if they decide to rush the court.

Holding Court 

Next in our process was to maintain what we had established. Positioning myself inside the inner perimeter, I was able to personally observe the chaos and frenzy of the rabid fans celebrating a world championship. Fueled by euphoria and mixed with a little alcohol, this dynamic always presented a formidable foe and an omnipresent threat. The image of the little boy with his finger in the dike comes to mind, because as one hole is plugged, another ominously appears. If I saw areas on our rope line being breached, my planned response was to dispatch extra security to those locations from a cadre of personnel I had designated for that exact role. Because my contingency planning had addressed this concern, we were adequately prepared to react and respond to this hazard.

Fluid, Mobile, and Adaptable

The last piece to the puzzle was to get the teams and families off the court, and we used our inner perimeter to facilitate their movement. The use of the nylon rope offered the advantage of moving the barricade and turning the secure zone into a fluid, mobile, adaptable space. Our personnel were able to escort the players, their families, and other people off the court by creating a temporary corridor from the floor to the back-of-the-house. Safety was paramount in this operation for both participants and spectators. By separating the players from the fans, we actually reduced the possibility of an accidental injury or an intentional criminal act, such as a physical altercation.

Education and Awareness    

A comprehensive public service campaign to educate the general public about the arena’s policy on fan behavior can mitigate court storming. If spectators understand that this type of activity is prohibited, violators will be prosecuted, and ticket revocation enforced, then people might think twice before they decide to enter the field of play. Video messages on the scoreboard, announcements over the public address system, posted signage, website material, social media, and specific text on the back of the ticket all offer different means to communicate that court storming poses a safety threat and those storming the court will be dealt with swiftly, sternly, and decisively.


Containing court storming involves evaluating how this transgression is reviewed and investigated post-incident. By interviewing staff to collect evidence and reviewing videotape that documents the event, you may be able to identify patrons who have clearly violated the published protocols and in some jurisdictions broken the law, which could result in a charge of trespassing. As cliché as it might sound, it can be beneficial for the sake of security to make an example of some of these individuals and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

No Silver Bullet

There is no panacea to eliminate court storming, but remedies can be put into place to plan, prepare, respond, and recover from these types of events. By creating security policies, educating staff, conducting ongoing training, maintaining public awareness, identifying discernible boundaries, and communicating consequences, you can put a collaborative and holistic process in place to counter this annual rite of March Madness.

The Erin Andrews Case Exposes Hotel Security

What’s trending in the news this week is the $75 million civil lawsuit filed by sportscaster and television celebrity, Erin Andrews, against three parties: a man who pleaded guilty to stalking her; West End Hotel Partners, franchise owner of the Nashville Marriott; and Windsor Capital Group, which manages the hotel.The jury needs to decide who is responsible for the crime that took take place on hotel property. Their decision will be partially influenced by assessing the security measures in place at the hotel when this criminal action occurred.

The Naked Truth

In 2009, Michael David Barrett pleaded guilty to renting hotel rooms next to Andrews in three cities, altering peepholes, and secretly shooting nude videos of her. Those previous court proceedings revealed that Barrett asked the hotel staff which room she was staying in, was provided the information, and asked to book an adjacent room. This request was granted three separate times, which allowed Barrett to film Andrews in her room through the peephole. Barrett was sentenced to 30 months in prison in March 2011 for stalking Andrews, according to federal court records in California.

Loose Lips

In assessing a security presence in any theater, campus, hospital, stadium, corporation, and, yes, hotel, the four main pillars of security—technical, physical, personnel, and procedural—need to be evaluated. The security policies, plans, and procedures are the most important piece of the four because they don’t only apply to security personnel—but  everyone on the premises needs to be aware of them. Regarding this particular case, the information management procedures need to be reviewed and evaluated to see if they addressed the disclosure of a guest room number, and if they did, were they followed?

Spread the Word

When the front desk is contacted about a hotel guest, staff should be provided specific written directions explicitly instructing what information can and cannot be shared via a telephone call, email, or an in-person inquiry. Simply stated, without a guest’s permission, no information should be shared, especially a room number. This directive needs to be fully disseminated to anyone with access to this information. A common thread to lapses in policy is a disconnect between security and non-security personnel. A continuously updated security plan with regularly scheduled training sessions will protect your organization from both inside and outside threats to maintain the safety of your employees, visitors, and clients.

Asleep at the Wheel

Most hotel floors have a substantial amount of activity during business hours. Between the hotel guests, cleaning staff, room service, maintenance people, and bellhops, enough people are coming and going to observe any unusual activity. Unfortunately, in the incidents involving Erin Andrews, no one noticed that the peephole had been altered or that Mr. Barrett had placed a camera on the door.Another security measure often overlooked in many different situations is the closed-circuit television (CCTV) video surveillance system. Optimally, someone should be monitoring this system to detect any nefarious activity, such as what occurred in this case. It doesn’t make sense to pay for security technologies if they are not going to be used properly.

The Grassroots of Marijuana Security (Part Four)

The fourth in an ongoing series, this blog discusses the connectivity between security and the medical and recreational marijuana industry. In Part One, I explained a holistic security plan for the oversight of commercial cannabis operations. In Part Two, I described the security strategy required to support the construction, implementation, operation, and sustainability of a cannabis cultivation center or dispensary. In Part Three, I delved into securing the day-to-day business operations of a legalized marijuana enterprise. And for Part Four, I examine the emerging legal and regulatory trends in this industry, specifically OSHA compliance, buffer zone rules, unregulated dispensaries, and legalized cannabis clubs.

Safe, Secure, and Compliant

Federal and state regulators are taking a bigger interest in the cannabis industry as the market develops. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ensures companies are providing safe working conditions for their employees and customers by operating at both the federal and state level, depending on how the state chooses to enforce safety laws. A knowledgeable consultant, well-versed in OSHA guidelines, will benefit your business and safeguard your operations, especially if you include him or her in your strategic security initiatives. Plus, your consultant will partner with you to prepare your company for any random and unannounced site visits by OSHA inspectors that could result in fines or, as a worst-case scenario, closing down your business.

What Does It Mean to Be in The Zone?

Typically, cannabis businesses cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a Drug Free Zone, which include child care centers, educational institutions, libraries, outdoor recreation facilities, schools, and youth activity centers. It’s a big hurdle for applicants if the space for their business is near one of these locations. And this zoning restriction doesn’t just apply to new entrepreneurs getting started in this industry—it also applies to current business owners who will have to adapt or lose their business, due to revised ordinances. For example, the Detroit City Council just passed new restrictions to curb an increase in unregulated dispensaries. The dispensaries that don’t meet these new regulations, including operating under a holistic security plan, can be closed.

Organized Crime and Minors

Two of the most serious regulations your business must follow are 1) ensuring that the product is not distributed to minors and 2) guaranteeing that revenue from marijuana sales does not go to criminal enterprises. Since many of these facilities cost millions of dollars to develop, build, and operate, failure to adhere to and enforce these requirements is a death sentence for most operations. Without the assistance of a subject matter expert in the law enforcement and security fields, you put yourself at risk of engaging in these prohibited activities to some degree. The logical first step in mitigating this risk is to develop an integrated and coordinated strategy with current police practices designed to prevent these crimes.

An Interesting Dichotomy

Washington, D.C. is considering the consumption, but not the sale, of cannabis at private clubs. The sale of recreational marijuana is illegal in the city, but liberal city council members are fighting with conservative anti-cannabis lawmakers to change the law. If this ordinance passes, residents will be able to consume marijuana at select locations. In the ever-changing world of the cannabis industry, one thing remains constant: an increased vigilance in security involvement with these enterprises will ensure the safety of their staff, protect the people frequenting these clubs, and safeguard their license to operate the business.

Super Bowl Needs Super Security

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

Strength in Numbers                                                       

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

It’s Important to Know Your Role

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

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

Divide and Conquer

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

What Else Goes Into the Plan?

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

High Stakes for High-Rise Security and Safety

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

It All Starts with Access Control

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

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

Let’s Talk About Hardening the Target

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

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

How Do I Escape From the Penthouse?

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

What Else Do I Need to Know?

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