To Save and Protect: Independent Security Study Does Both

How safe and secure do your employees feel? They might be harassed or threatened by co-workers or visitors, or exposed to some other type of workplace violence. Or maybe your CEO has received threats from a customer dissatisfied with your organization’s product or service. From C-suite to entry level employees, you must be committed to security as a 24/7 objective.

What is great security—and how do you know if you have it?
You might know what great music sounds like or great pizza tastes like, but do you know what great security looks like? Great security follows best practices to successfully protect your people from any hazards they might face in the workplace.

And great security is achieved through a security assessment that helps you understand what you have and benchmarks it with best practices and other organizations who are doing it right to determine what you need. A security assessment ensures that physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security measures are working together to protect your people, property, and assets.

What is an independent security study and why do you need it?
Especially if your organization or CEO is high profile, a security assessment must look at security across the enterprise, like transportation, private residences, personal protection, and other activities related to your executive protection (EP) operations and corporate security (CS) program. That’s when the assessment becomes the foundation of an independent security study (ISS). Not only will an ISS protect your employees, but it will also evaluate EP and CS, and how well you identify, assess, and manage threats to individuals and the organization itself. Plus, the ISS allows your organization’s leadership to avoid unnecessary tax liability as it relates to executive protection.

You can’t conduct the study yourself—that’s why it’s independent.
An important part of the IRS compliance is that the study must be done by an outsider—that’s why it’s independent. In other words, you can’t conduct your own assessment. The net result of the ISS conducted by an independent consultant is an evaluation of your personnel, programs, policies, technologies, operations, and current security environment to identify areas of strength along with opportunities for improvement.

Benchmarking, United States Secret Service, and IRS compliance—a dynamic trio.
Your EP might include air travel, airport protection, ground transportation, and a traveling protective detail to ensure the safety of company executives, especially if they travel internationally. The IRS taxes the gross income of those executives for transportation security costs—unless you can show a bona fide business-oriented security concern for the protection provided. An ISS meets the necessary requirements for the IRS to avoid this tax, saving your CEO money.

Does the CEO travel to countries with known terrorist activity? Does a driver transport the CEO from home to work and back? Does the CEO travel by private plane? The ISS dives deeply into your EP operations to document current measures and offers industry best practices to mitigate threats and strengthen overall security.

By working with The Lake Forest Group, you optimize the value of this outside relationship through benchmarking and extensive experience. Because of our varied client list, we can connect you to best practices that transcend industries so you can learn from organizations you would rarely have contact with otherwise. And as I assess your CS program and specifically EP operations, I will rely on my experiences as a Secret Service agent who protected the President and First Lady in the President’s Protective Detail, investigated threats to the President, and identified risk in a variety of locations, circumstances, and appearances.

Leveraging the USSS methodology in your ISS, we evaluate your:
• EP operations, including drivers, vehicles, corporate or private aircraft, airport locations and personnel, risk level where the executive travels, advance and traveling details, and any additional activities designed to safeguard your CEO and select executives
• Physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security at corporate, residential, and transportation-related properties
• Coordination with internal stakeholders including HR, facilities, security, finance, and legal to maximize communication and risk management effectiveness across departments
• Cooperation with external stakeholders to support security initiatives, including local first responders, open source and social media analysts, and response monitoring station personnel

A holistic strategy guarantees your security is greater than the sum of its parts.
As we conduct the ISS, we look at each element of your security environment at corporate properties, private residences of executives, and locations, equipment, and personnel that support air and ground transportation. Because each part of EP is intrinsically interrelated with another and EP in turn is inherently connected to physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security measures at every location and in every function, your ability to protect your executives as well as your employees depends on a holistic security strategy.

The ISS ensures that holistic security strategy as we offer strategic considerations to enhance existing measures. It also complies with IRS requirements to validate employer-provided transportation for business-oriented security concerns and overall security programs and specifically exclude those costs and items from the executive’s gross income.


What to look for when hiring a Chief Security Officer (CSO)

by Patrick Gray of Raines International and G. Michael Verden of The Lake Forest Group

The Lake Forest Group is working with Raines International in recruiting security professionals for top level executive positions to make an immediate impact in organizations across all industries and functions—because in today’s business environment, security has taken on an elevated role in operations to protect an organization’s people, property, and brand.

Accordingly, savvy business leaders want to build an environment that anticipates vulnerabilities, implements countermeasures to mitigate threats, and creates a backdrop of safety and security so employees can thrive.

When you are ready to hire a Chief Security Officer (CSO), you may not know where to start. CSOs can be an integral part of your leadership team because they understand how workplace violence, outside intrusions and other threats can disrupt business operations, impact employee turnover, and inhibit productivity. While they know how to anticipate and prevent the typical risks that may affect your business, a great CSO will have his or her finger on the pulse of the security world and will think three steps ahead to protect against today’s — and tomorrow’s — challenges.

Raines has found that many CSOs come from the military, law enforcement, or government. While those backgrounds support an organization’s security objectives because military and law enforcement backgrounds tend to bring a proactive approach to security, an outstanding CSO will also bring a variety of soft skills. From the obvious to perhaps the unexpected, a CSO may offer the following soft skills:

  • Adaptable and agile
  • Abreast of the latest industry developments
  • Communication skills
  • Business acumen
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Approachability
  • Organizational skills
  • Team building
  • Leadership

The right CSO for your organization should effectively complement your culture. Depending on the size of the organization, the CSO must also have the right support team and governance ability. Whether presenting an annual budget report to the C-suite or conducting orientation security training for new hires, the CSO should have the ability to relate to both, and, more importantly, be capable of engaging with everyone. This connection allows the CSO to communicate important security education and awareness material to the workforce that best prepares them for an incident in the workplace.

The CSO also needs to foster goodwill by demonstrating that any changes in the workplace are for the benefit of the organization’s people and not meant to disrupt daily business activities. A successful CSO realizes that some modifications he or she might make to a business environment in the name of security and emergency preparedness may be met with resistance by employees if they do not properly disseminate and adequately explain these changes and the reasons behind them.

Just as they do for the other leaders on your team, these soft skills can make the difference in your CSO being a simple placeholder and a real change maker who works to create a safe and secure workplace that supports your employees.

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/.


Welcome To Safe University (SAFE U)!

YOUR PARTNER IN CAMPUS SECURITY

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

HOW SAFE U BENEFITS YOUR SCHOOL AND YOUR PEOPLE
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
PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE, CAMPUS AND BRAND BY BENCHMARKING WITH THE BEST

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.

ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF SAFETY THROUGH SAFE U’S OBJECTIVE REVIEW

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.


The Impact of Domestic Violence in the Workplace

This blog is by guest writer, Mr. John Savas, who has more than 25 years of human resource experience in both corporate and consulting roles, and has worked with a variety of industries in public and private companies, family-owned businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Workplace Violence and Domestic Violence are Related

People often wonder why we talk about domestic violence in the same breath as workplace violence. After all, one happens at home and the other is usually some ticked off former employee who goes back to the office to wreak havoc, right? While the former employee scenario is just one of many types of workplace violence, other perpetrators of workplace violence include disgruntled employees, criminal outsiders, and those who have a personal relationship with the victim. This last one is normally characterized as domestic violence that spills over into the workplace with women at a higher risk of being victims of this type of violence.

The Numbers Do Not Lie  

Statistics tell us that one in four women is likely to be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. Consider the enormity of that statistic and then think about your own workplace. That means that virtually every business has women who have been, currently are, or will be victimized by a partner. In 2014, 7% of workplace homicides were a direct result of a personal relationship. It is so important for companies like yours to step up efforts as they relate to domestic violence. Aside from it being the right thing to do to protect your employees and provide them a safe and supportive environment in which to work, businesses are incurring significant costs as a direct result of domestic violence, above and beyond the effects of the actual violence that occurs at work.

Understanding the Health Issues of Workplace Violence

The cost of domestic violence for your business usually falls into one of two categories: health benefit costs and lost productivity. Let’s spend a moment talking about health benefit costs. Did you know that one in three women seen in an emergency room is there as a direct result of domestic violence? Health care costs for women of domestic violence are in excess of $2,000 more each year than those of other similarly situated women. And that estimate is based on the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. Less extreme examples such as mental, emotional, and verbal abuse also result in medical plan usage, but statistics are not readily available for these issues.

Lost Productivity from Absence and Abuse  

As for lost productivity, some conservative estimates put absenteeism for victims just over eight days per year, but once again, this only accounts for the most extreme cases of physical and sexual assault. And what about non-absentee lost productivity? Victims of domestic violence are distracted at work due to physical, mental, and emotional abuse.

Domestic Violence Mitigation in the Workplace     

Effective workplace violence policies can make a difference in the lives of the women who work in your organization in addition to creating a supportive workplace culture. Do your policies encourage open communication between employees and your organization? Do your employees feel that they can confide in you if they are experiencing threatening behavior at home without fear of retribution in the form of disciplinary action, lost wages, or possible termination?

When it’s all said and done, the costs to the company for domestic violence can be significant, whether it spills into the workplace or not. When was the last time you thoroughly reviewed your policies, outreach and support programs, and how you handle domestic violence in the workplace? We’re here to help.

Mr. John Savas has been exposed to virtually all areas within HR throughout his career and has been instrumental in the development and implementation of numerous workplace violence prevention and intervention programs, including domestic violence in the workplace. John speaks and trains frequently on topics such as performance management, leadership, harassment and discrimination, and workplace violence.

 


When Domestic Violence Spills Over into the Workplace

This blog is by guest writer, Ms. Pam Paziotopoulos, Esquire, an attorney and national expert in workplace, domestic, and partner violence. Ms. Paziotopoulos is a Strategic Advisor for The Lake Forest Group.

Domestic Violence Spillover

While we consider the Orlando shootings an act of terrorism, many of us might not think of them as an example of workplace violence. The ex-wife of the shooter told reporters that he was prone to violent behavior and physically abused her. He also isolated her from her family, who worked to persuade her to leave the marriage. This was a case of a domestic situation that escalated into violence that infiltrated the Pulse nightclub. In the also tragic Sandy Hook incident, the shooter took the life of his mother and then went to the school to commit one of the most horrific crimes of our time. Once again, domestic violence infiltrated our society.

What can we do? Of course we can’t prevent all of these incidents, but we can make certain that our workplaces have the tools that we need to do everything in our power to prevent these acts from occurring at our organizations. Do you have policies? Training? Incident management teams?  Have you trained your staff to observe and report any behavioral changes of other employees or customers to security? People never snap—there are always pre-incident indicators. As our colleagues at homeland security say, “If you see something, say something.” Taking that extra step to tell someone could save not one life, but many.

Stalking in the Workplace  

Traditionally, prosecutors and law enforcement “react” to crimes after they are committed, such as when someone is shot, injured, or murdered. There are few methods that apply techniques to avoid further violence. The mentality is just to “wait.” We know now that there is no time to wait. We must intervene before the violence escalates. It was this mentality that made it difficult for law enforcement, prosecution, and the judiciary to address stalking cases. Initially, we were puzzled by these cases. With other cases, prosecutors have medical records, paramedic reports, photos of crime scenes, photos of victim’s injuries, and the testimony of independent witnesses. However, in many stalking cases, there are no injuries so there are no pictures, no medical records or paramedic reports, and no crime scene photos. Professionals working in this field must refine their interviewing questions to ensure that they are getting sufficient “behaviors of concern” background information on the case. They must strive to gain insight on how far along the offender is on his path to acting out in a violent manner against the victim or other victims.

Some states have passed laws allowing behaviors of concern/risk factors to be introduced in the case to assess the dangerousness of an offender. Ask yourself. Are you prepared? Do you have a comprehensive workplace violence policy that conforms with the recommendations from the FBI, ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security), SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management), and the ABA (American Bar Association)? Do you have a threat management team that is specifically trained on risk assessment and stalking in intimate partner violence cases? Are you creating a culture where your employees feel comfortable divulging information about their unhealthy and possibly dangerous relationships? Make absolutely certain they are communicating that information to your security personnel. It’s the most critical first step in ANY prevention program.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do  

A few years back, I had the pleasure of meeting Eugene Rugala, who at the time was the Supervisory Special Agent for the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime for the FBI. Gene and I worked on a number of projects together and also analyzed domestic violence homicides. Gene’s division went on to do a formalized study. The results were fairly predictable and solidified what we thought to be true. The homicide generally occurred directly after separating from the abuser. Thus, we know that during the separation the victim enters a dangerous zone. The first question that should be asked in a preliminary risk assessment is “Have you told the abuser that you intend to leave this relationship or have you already curtailed it?”

It is a well-known fact that in most domestic violence homicides the victim had either recently communicated to the perpetrator that the relationship was at an end or had already terminated the relationship. If the answer to this question is “yes,” the employer will know that the victim will be entering (or already has entered) a potentially very dangerous situation. It is imperative that the employer work with the victim to devise a safety plan for home and for work while looking for ways to adjust the victim’s work schedule and/or workload to ensure that the individual is protected arriving to and leaving from work, as well as during work hours.

Tailored Solution for Workplace Violence Prevention and Intervention   

The Lake Forest Group provides fully-customized solutions for companies, colleges, and organizations for the prevention and intervention of violence in the workplace. Implementing a comprehensive workplace violence program requires more than drafting a policy—it requires training, communications, and management commitment. We begin each engagement with a needs assessment that outlines the gaps and opportunities in an effective workplace violence prevention and intervention program, tailoring the program to fit the unique needs of each business and leveraging Pam’s extensive experience in workplace and domestic partner violence.

 


So You Think You’re An Expert!

I know a lot of consultants that fancy themselves as experts in their respective fields. If you really want to validate a self-proclaimed title of subject matter expert, I suggest you test your mettle in a court of law. There is a market for security professionals to offer their expert opinion in litigation proceedings for both civil and criminal cases. These services can include case assessment, evidence evaluation, tactics examination, investigation, report writing, deposition, and testimony.

The Devil is in the Details

In preparing for legal proceedings, assistance from a subject matter expert typically begins with a thorough research process to identify and record current and applicable industry standards and best practice benchmarks. All of this is driven by the nature of the case and the specific discipline you are offering your respective expertise, such as retail theft, facility security, workplace violence, or emergency management. An expert needs to have the capability and competency to not only rely on a methodical and meticulous preparation methodology, but also to offer an equally proficient familiarity and comprehension of the specific subject matter based on educational qualifications, professional background, and definitive experience related to the subject matter.

The Best Defense is a Good Offense  

Another key dynamic is the side you are representing, plaintiff or defendant. It is important to note, that you should never take on a case based on compensation. The bottom line is not the determining factor. The decision to accept work in this field is whether or not the legal position of the prospective client is consistent with your expert opinion. The golden rule is to believe in the side you are representing and the stance you are endorsing. When supporting the defense’s legal team, the best strategy is a confined focus on disproving the position of the other side. On the other hand, when backing the plaintiff, the best tactic is to attack. An expert can be brought in to expose a weakness and highlight one specific fault that could refute the defense’s opinion.

Observe and Report  

The fruit of this labor will be found in the pages of your expert witness report. This document should comprise clear and direct language. Identify where you obtained each fact and piece of data. This can be done with footnotes or direct references in the text of your report. This will show the reader that you didn’t create these facts and will help when testifying. An expert’s role is to state and provide an opinion, every word in the report matters, so choose them carefully. An opinion should be expressed succinctly and confidently. Avoid words, such as, “seemingly” or “apparently,” which gives the perception that the expert is not certain in the written words of the report. The best rule-of-thumb is to imagine how an antagonistic attorney could use these words against you during a deposition or cross-examination.

Never Imitated, Often Duplicated  

There is no substitute for experience. An expert opinion is forged by years of real-world and hands-on experience. You cannot wake up one morning and decide to become an expert. This is a body-of-work developed over years and years of honing your skills. There is no substitute for experience, but experience by itself is not enough. This is not a line-of-work for a professional to rest on their laurels. Complacency and the status quo are fatal flaws. Staying up-to-date with industry trends, emerging technology, current research, and recent articles and publications can keep an expert and an expert.