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. 


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.


Protecting Houses of Worship, Providing Security for Sanctuaries

No matter where you live in the world, a house of worship, whether a temple, church, synagogue, or mosque, should provide an escape from the evils of mankind. These sanctuaries offer us a place of peace where people from different social, economic, political, and ethnic backgrounds can come together to unite in their common faith.

Recently, even these sacred grounds have come under attack and been the scene of yet more tragic events in our country. When a tragedy occurs at a movie theater, school, concert, and now church, we learn that no place is immune to violence and we need to be acutely aware of our environment at all times. By learning from these past incidents, let’s consider what we can do to protect houses of worship and provide security for our sanctuaries.

Keep the Faith

On the day of a service, both employees and visitors of a place of worship can have a role to play to enhance protection. The congregation can be taught how to develop their situational awareness and identify possible threats and early warning signs of potential violence, such as surveillance, erratic behavior, signs of domestic violence, and indications of mental health issues, before they manifest into a much more serious risk. Houses of worship can also regularly distribute safety and security material to make people aware of relevant threats or issues of concern.

While ushers at most places of worship show people to their seats, they can provide information for a number of different inquiries. These people can also be the ears and eyes for a covert security platform. As people enter the building and once the service starts, they can visually observe the interior and exterior of the property to look for anomalies or suspicious activity.

Pray, Plan, Prepare, and Protect

Prayer is always good but it’s also important to plan, prepare, and protect against potential emergencies. The Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign applies here. In order to mitigate an incident, we must first identify an event as a possible emergency (seeing) and then make the proper notification (saying). An emergency management plan is especially important for a number of reasons. If you have a plan, your people will know what to do when it comes to a potential incident, such as the arrival of a suspicious package or unauthorized intruder. When your employees and visitors understand their roles in an emergency, they can help to ensure safety—which is only possible with the proper preparation, planning, and training to respond to a crisis.

All Hazards but One Goal—Keep Your People Safe

You can capture the necessary procedures to keep your people safe in an all hazards emergency plan, because an all hazards approach prepares for every kind of incident—especially since most emergency plans rarely cover everything that might be required. Adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational, an all-hazards plan provides a definitive framework for responding to a wide variety of emergencies and includes designated lockdown procedures, safe rooms, emergency exits, and relocation areas.


Arena and Stadium Security Requires Protecting People, Property, and Assets

The tragic event this week in Manchester, England at an arena filled with families and children attending a concert reminds us of the evil of terrorism. The attack by a suicide bomber was Europe’s 13th terrorist incident since 2015. As ISIS claims responsibility, it calls for supporters to strike anywhere and with whatever weapons possible—vehicle, firearm, or explosive—showing us once again that this danger is real with no signs of going away. My professional experiences have taught me how to effectively plan, prepare and implement multi-disciplinary security measures to counter this threat. Remember, security has to be right all the time, but the terrorist only needs to be right once.

High Profile = High Risk   

Large-scale venues, such as an arena in Manchester, stadium in Paris, or major league ballpark in the U.S., are prime targets due to the high volume of people in a condensed area. A terrorist who wants to inflict as much damage as possible to numerous victims is drawn to these types of facilities, especially a high-profile site like an iconic sports venue. Protecting buildings and properties this big is no easy task but risk can be controlled and lives can be protected with the right combination of knowledge, experience, and resources. The key to safeguarding a large piece of real estate is the strategic placement of security assets, which can only be learned from real world experience.          

Your Plan Needs to be Tailored, Customized, Reasonable, and Effective

After years of protecting large-scale operations and major events on a global stage with both the Secret Service and as a security consultant, I understand that a large-scale venue security plan requires appropriate countermeasures to mitigate the various types of hazards and ensure the safety of both the people attending the event and the operation of the venue. With that understanding, a security plan needs to be uniquely tailored to the environment and culture of the property. The Lake Forest Group’s security planning follows a developed and still evolving process based on the 35+ years of experience in law enforcement, security, legal, and human resources of our team.

The Six Pillars of Large-Scale Venue Security Design You Must Consider

The design, creation, and implementation of a large-scale venue security plan begins with an on-site assessment of the site to evaluate risk in six crucial areas:

  1. Personnel security: chain-of-command, manpower, staffing, posts, and supervision
  2. Systems technology: alarms, access control, cameras, monitoring, X-ray screening, metal detectors, and command center capabilities
  3. Physical security: fencing, gates, barriers, locks, windows, and hardware
  4. Processes: security policies, operational protocols, access control, parking, transportation, player/performer protection, crowd control, and guest management
  5. Emergency preparedness: emergency management, incident response, lockdown, shelter, evacuation, and relocation
  6. Liaison with critical third parties and first responders
Leveraging All of the Assets and Resources of the Federal Government

Given the current nature of the terrorist threat and the severity of the consequences associated with many potential attack scenarios, the private sector will need to look to organizations within the U. S. government for intelligence information at critical times. In order to offer you maximum protection, The Lake Forest Group works in collaboration with international, federal, state, and local entities to convene and schedule meetings; develop, write, and disseminate security plans, emergency management procedures, continuity of operations plans, roles and responsibilities of agencies and private sector partners, and counter surveillance plans, among others; and provide daily on-the-ground assistance to meet our client’s goals and objectives and produce a safe and positive environment for participants, guests, employees, and all in attendance.

A Preventative Protective Security Methodology Balances Ends, Ways, and Means 

Ultimately, successful security planning and event management focus on a preventative protective security methodology that balances ends, ways, and means, using the appropriate personnel to identify and assess targeted threats and create enhanced countermeasures to mitigate risk. The Lake Forest Group has provided trusted counsel and thought leadership to our clients by successfully securing professional sports and collegiate stadiums and arenas, corporate offices, industrial plants, commercial properties, government venues, entertainment sites, medical facilities, and academic institutions across the country and around the globe.


How Safe Is Your School? Security 101

While fall ushers in Indian summer, football season, and autumn leaves, it also means back to school for millions of students everywhere. Mixed into the list of school essentials like laptops, backpacks, and books is the need for security measures that safeguard the administrators, teachers, and children who spend most of their day in a scholastic setting. Since recent history has unfortunately shown us that tragic events can occur on any size campus—from universities like Virginia Tech to high schools like Columbine to elementary schools like Sandy Hook—we need to be prepared to mitigate the situations that threaten our schools and the people in them.

You Can Increase Security through Education, Awareness, and Training    

The educational environment is a unique culture distinguished by above-average attrition (e.g., students, faculty), high visitor volume (e.g., substitute teachers, parents), open settings (e.g., playgrounds, courtyards), and long hours of operation (e.g., day and night classes, extracurricular activities). While protecting people, property, and assets based on these dynamics is a formidable challenge, you can control risk through education, awareness, and training. Because your security is only as good as the consciousness of the constituents who occupy the venue on a daily basis, the best way to raise their security and safety acumen is by creating and maintaining a continuously updated education, awareness, and training program built by best practices and industry benchmarking.

It’s Time to Hit the Books to Build Your Security Program

So, what should go into your education, awareness, and training program? Start with training on: emergency evacuation, shelter-in-place, campus lockdowns, and active shooter. Then move to awareness material that focuses on visitor registration, restricted access, parking requirements, prohibited items, and student drop-off and pick-up. And round it up with educational content that offers information on drug and alcohol abuse, workplace violence, sexual harassment, and suicide prevention. One of the goals of your program is to stay up-to-date on emerging threats and concerns related to your institution, which can only be accomplished by continuous reading, research, and networking with experts in these fields.

Use All Your Resources to Support Safety in School

Technical security solutions such as closed-circuit television, automated access control, intrusion detection, emergency notification, and panic alarms should also be incorporated into safeguarding a school property. These systems working in combination with security-related policies, procedures, processes, personnel, and physical standards will produce the desired outcome—an integration of protective measures resulting in a holistic security posture. Not only is it essential to have all of these recommended security features, but it is also equally important that the appropriate people are properly trained on their use.        

Work with a Partner to Create Safe Schools All Year Long

You’ll feel confident to handle threats to your school when you feel confident in your plan. And creating an effective plan takes time. Start by identifying a security professional with experience in securing campuses and adapting best practices to your specific location. Of course summertime is the perfect time to evaluate and modify all of your safety and security policies, processes, programs and systems so you can roll out any changes when the school year begins. But you shouldn’t wait until next year to start your plan. You can schedule an orientation for your students and employees and inform parents, police, fire, and other external stakeholders whenever it feels right. Security is a 24/7 undertaking and your commitment to learning, teaching, training, and awareness should always be in session.


Protecting the C-Suite from the Tax Man

If Executive Protection is one of your security roles, you need to be up to date on the latest best practices to maximize security and minimize risk—in the most cost-effective and efficient way possible. An Independent Security Study will help select executives in your company avoid unnecessary tax liability and at the same time assess your company’s security environment while providing great value to you in your role as a corporate security professional.

Why Do You Need an Independent Security Study?

Your Executive Protection might include air travel, airport protection, ground transportation, and a travelling protective detail to ensure the safety of company executives, especially if they travel internationally. The IRS will tax 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 Independent Security Study meets the necessary requirements for the IRS to avoid this tax—and saves your CEO money.

You Can’t Conduct the Study Yourself

An important part of the IRS compliance is that the study is done by an outsider, e.g., independent consultant. You can’t conduct your own assessment. The Independent Security Study is based on an objective assessment of all facts and circumstances and the employer applies the specific security recommendations contained in the security study to the employee on a consistent basis.

An Independent Security Study Benefits You and Your Organization

The net result of the Independent Security Study 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. In addition, your compliance with the IRS showing the security you provide your executives is part of an overall security program also benefits you and your organization.

What Are the IRS and Tax Connections to the Study?

The Independent Security Study is tailored to fulfill IRS statutory requirements as they relate to validating employer-provided transportation for business-oriented security concerns and overall security programs. The Independent Security Study documents employer-provided transportation for security concerns for corporations seeking to specifically exclude security-related cost and items from the executive’s gross income. 


Stopping an Active Shooter Is More Than Run, Hide, Fight

Unfortunately, our country continues to be plagued by horrific active shooter incidents such as what occurred at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport last week as we remember those who lost their lives or were injured in the attack. Because of the constant reoccurrence of these tragedies, the Department of Homeland Security created the action phrase  ̶ ̶  Run, Hide, Fight. These instructions have become almost instinctive and such a key part of our culture that under extreme duress, such as an active shooter incident, ordinary citizens know how to react appropriately. And this knowledge of what to do will hopefully save their lives and possibly the lives of others.

Although I acknowledge the importance of Run, Hide, Fight, I also understand how much more needs to be considered in order to protect ourselves against an active shooter. Run, Hide, Fight instructs us primarily on what to do during an incident, but what also needs to be taught is how to prevent the incident from occurring in the first place. The year 2017 offers us an opportunity to pause, reassess, and look at two critical elements associated with active shooters—cause and mitigation.

Starting at the Beginning Is a Good Place to Start

After an active shooter incident occurs, the post-incident investigation traces the history of the shooter to determine possible association to the victims and the scene of the crime and often reveals a number of clues that show the active shooter was on a pathway to violence. Some of these warning signs include inappropriate posts or disturbing videos on social media, violent outbursts, threatening comments, and dramatic changes in appearance.

Because each of these incidents needs to stand on its own, we don’t have a universally accepted profile to identify a potential active shooter—so having the preventative strategies in place before an incident offers one key measure to mitigating it. If you know what indicators to look for and have access to professional assistance, such as mental health services, you may be able to determine if intervention is necessary. Any of these signs could be an indication of a much more serious problem that may require identification, assessment, and management of a potential violent situation by a team of professionals with a diverse skill set.

Failing to Plan Is Planning to Fail  

So far, I’ve talked about what to do during an active shooter scenario (run, hide, fight) and the actions to take to prevent irregular behavior (identify, assess, manage) from deteriorating into an act of violence. A holistic strategy will feature all of these recommendations along with a number of other preventative disciplines in order to deter, delay, or deny the possible occurrence of an active shooter incident.

You can help to efficiently and effectively ensure safety and security with the proper planning, awareness, education and training necessary to respond to an active shooter. And the best way to implement these measures is to capture the essential processes in an Active Shooter Plan. The plan needs to be adaptable to circumstances, innovative, and, when necessary, improvisational and ideally prepares everyone for all hazards—natural, accidental, and intentional.

One Is the Loneliest Number  

A site-specific Active Shooter Plan, such as for a commercial property or higher education campus, is not created by one person, or even a small group of people. In other words, your plan isn’t written in a vacuum. A multi-disciplinary approach is required and demands collaboration between internal and external stakeholders that are invested in the process. Individuals with diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and experience can come together and work side-by-side to design a plan to mitigate this threat. In-house staff can include security, legal, HR, facilities, maintenance, and emergency management while outside constituents are typically contract security, law enforcement, fire department, medical, and local emergency managers.


Building the Perfect (Security) Beast

We turn to a consultant to help us with a challenge we can’t solve ourselves, to supply the knowledge and experience of industry best practices and regulatory compliance, provide a particular type of subject matter expertise, or to guide us through a specific project. While a security consultant is certainly an advisor, assessor, examiner, and evaluator, we can also ask him or her to modify, correct, enhance, and create safety- and security-related documents—specifically, procedural standards such as guidelines, policies, plans, rules, and directives.

Imitation Is the Highest Form of Flattery

If you could create a security department that was an industry leader with best-in-class operations, would you? Of course you would, but how do you know your program is better than the rest? What puts you ahead of your competitors and, equally important, keeps you there? Your success starts with the documents that reflect the mission of the security program while at the same time protect the brand of the organization. Ideally you want to benchmark against companies similar in shape, size, and footprint. If you work for a multinational corporation operating in multiple continents with a global corporate security department, then you want to compare yourself to similar organizations and their full breadth of the security department policies.

All For One and One For All

Employees are more likely to see security as a company priority if management visibly supports security efforts and initiatives. Consequently, a security program is most effective when people see it as an important part of a company’s goals and vision. Among the best ways to demonstrate that support is to include security as one of management’s core values and to promulgate official company policies regarding security. And as the most effective means to this end, multi-disciplinary involvement in the creation and vetting of these documents invites partnerships with legal, HR, IT, and employee assistance to collaboratively design inclusive and relevant procedures. A security department simply cannot do all this by itself.

Let’s Talk About the Nuts and Bolts  

Now that we’ve addressed the importance of building a security program through the “power of paper,” let’s focus on the specific documents needed. Applicable security directives and guidelines can include documents such as:

  • A clean desk policy
  • Access control procedures
  • Restricted area access
  • Visitor management
  • Background screening requirements

While physical security measures are critical, the access protocols and practices and the ability to screen and filter all personnel, services, deliveries, and equipment seeking access to the facilities and its environs are equally, if not more, important. The implementation and effectiveness of security systems, such as closed-circuit surveillance equipment, exterior and perimeter security systems and monitoring, and electronic access control systems, can be determined by the written guidelines and published rules giving instructions on the proper use of these technologies.

Training Is a Perishable Skill

The success or failure of a security program could depend on the training curriculum, security awareness information, and education materials designed not only for the security team, but also for the entire organization. Non-security personnel must receive ongoing and current training on safety-related information regarding emergency preparedness, fire prevention, and workplace violence mitigation, among many areas. Your best practice based security program should combine research, collaboration, institutional knowledge, and professional experience to produce training that engages people by providing practical and hands-on tools they can implement immediately.

Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

We adapt our policies and procedures to our needs and current situation. And the need for most new policies and procedures is driven by knowing current best practices and awareness of emerging threat scenarios. With clients in both the public and private sector, The Lake Forest Group offers you insight acquired through decades of engagements helping organizations assess their current security program—beginning with their written policies and procedures. From there, we can ensure that your corporate environment, financial services, international affairs, business operations, brand integrity, protective intelligence, operational protocols, budget execution, and human resources are built on a strong, best-in-class security foundation.