Why Domestic Violence Is a Factor in Workplace Violence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Protecting Your People Post Pandemic—with a Plan

What are you and your employees feeling while coping with the COVID-19 crisis—disruption, uncertainty, fear, sadness, stress, anxiety, empathy, community, cooperation, or a combination of any, all, or other emotions? A devastating emergency like the coronavirus pandemic teaches us how important it is to work together. In all emergencies, we must integrate individual functions with multi-entity operations. That means we have to collaborate internally with all departments of our organization as well as externally with first responders like police, fire, public and mental health, and medical services in order to protect our employees.

Especially during May’s Mental Health Awareness month, business psychologist Dino Signore, PhD puts our emotions in perspective in 8 steps to navigating uncertainty. “We want to regulate our emotions and behavior when it’s appropriate and to surrender when it’s not,” he writes. “A psychological term, ‘surrender,’ shouldn’t be mistaken for helplessness, giving up or becoming a victim. Instead, surrendering means you make the decision to let go of things you cannot control and focus on the things you can control.”

So what can you do during these uncertain times? You can focus on controlling your response and recovery efforts to the pandemic and its impact on your operations and employees by creating or enhancing a holistic all-hazards emergency management plan (EMP). In fact, the EMP not only addresses your response and recovery initiatives but also the prevention/mitigation and preparedness measures you’ll need for the next emergency you’ll face.

An Emergency Management Plan Covers All Hazards

Before, during, and after emergencies caused by all hazards including weather, criminal activity, accidents, and public health crises, a plan implements the four phases of emergency management as defined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and FEMA to prevent injuries, save lives, minimize property damage, decrease liability, and help restore operations.

Phase 1: Prevention and Mitigation

Prevention and mitigation includes any activities that are preventative, reduce the chance of an emergency happening, or mitigate the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies. Beginning with an assessment of your current security capabilities, you’ll identify what you have and what you need. By reviewing the physical security measures, security technologies, policies, procedures, incident reporting protocols, emergency management documents, and personnel staffing and support, you’ll also understand your level of risk and how your workplace exposes your employees to potential harm.

Think about your organization and how well you protect employees with:

  • Physical measures including barriers, keys, locks, fencing, and landscaping
  • Technical systems including cameras, card readers, alarms, and biometrics
  • Procedural processes including active shooter plans, workplace violence policies, and background screening
  • Personnel support including from your security department, security officers, and liaison with first responders.

Phase 2: Preparedness  

Preparedness details the measures you need to prepare for an emergency and an updated plan details how you can properly prepare, plan, and train to respond to a crisis. If your organization has an emergency management plan and you train your employees on it, your people will know what to do when they face the unexpected. After determining the resources and skill sets you need from internal partners including security, legal, emergency management, and HR and external stakeholders including police, fire, and emergency medical, you can establish a training curriculum that prepares your workforce for their roles and responsibilities during an event and how they will coordinate and integrate with first responders.

Training is at the heart of preparedness—active shooter and fire drills familiarize employees with the emergency evacuation routes, safe rooms, and lockdown and weather event exercises involve stocking items like water, food, and blankets for shelter-in-place. Your training strategy focuses on how employee activities, building management, daily operations, access control, visitor management, emergency preparedness, and incident response work together to ensure safety during and after an emergency.

Phase 3: Response

A Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) survey in April found that most organizations were not prepared to respond to the pandemic and 1/3 did not have an EMP—making them vulnerable to loss of productivity, operational lapses, and potential tragic injuries or death to any emergency they will face. We’ve heard that some organizations have downloaded their plans from the Internet, haven’t updated their plans for years, or don’t train their employees on the plan. Those are not holistic all hazards EMPs.

In order to keep your employees safe, your EMP must be customized to your location and:

  • Specifically identify evacuation routes, assembly areas, and safe rooms
  • Outline roles your emergency management team will assume in an emergency
  • Coordinate with first responders, specifically police and fire
  • Ensure effective communication with employees, first responders, and stakeholders

A comprehensive plan focuses on many more areas you’ll need to consider to accomplish your mission of protecting your people.

Phase 4: Recovery

Because all emergency incidents cause disruption, possibly across an entire enterprise or institution, an effective recovery strategy and continuity of operations planning will increase resiliency and ensure you can continue to provide essential functions and services during and after an emergency.

How soon will you recover from an incident? You need to determine your organization’s competency level for mitigating an emergency:

  • Do you have memorandums of understanding (MOUs) or mutual aid agreements (MAAs) in place with public and private organizations to provide the necessary resources?
  • Do your strategies align with the four phases of emergency management (prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery)?
  • Do you have a property-specific emergency management plan in full compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS)?
  • Through either training or an actual event, are you constantly reviewing the effectiveness of your plan by testing, reviewing, evaluating, modifying, implementing, and repeating the cycle?
  • Do you have a process in place to implement an after action review to identify lessons learned from the current crisis and apply them to your updated plan to address all hazards?

We’re Here to Help
You are committed to protecting your employees. We can work with you to construct a tailored emergency management plan that does just that. Or we can discuss whatever is on your mind in a free 30-minute consultation. Contact me at [email protected] or 312.515.8747 and together we can ensure a safe workplace where your employees can do their best work.


An After Action Review Helps Your Business Continue

The impact of COVID-19 on our country affects not only the health of our citizens but also the strength and well-being of our business community. The results of our survey last month coupled with continued conversations with colleagues reveal that most organizations are concerned with how to move toward recovery.

After the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted and business activities resume, organizations will need to evaluate how well they responded to this emergency to determine if they were adequately prepared to continue their operations, support their employees, and service their clients and customers.

One essential tool that helps companies of all types and sizes, across all industries, assess their preparedness, response, and recovery to COVID-19 and all emergencies is the after action review (AAR) process. We’ll show you how to use this process to improve the performance of your entire organization regarding not only emergency incidents but also events and projects.

The AAR process provides an opportunity for you as part of your organization’s leadership to assess what worked, what didn’t, and why, the current resource capabilities in place and those you lack, what you need to change, and how you can move toward improvement. Simply put, this learning-focused process is designed to help you discover what went well and what could be done differently. The nature and size of an incident determine the amount of time you need to complete the AAR process and move toward recovery.

The AAR process generates improved communication and feedback between departments within an organization as well as with external stakeholders such as first responders and specialists including subject matter experts. Because the focus is on lessons learned, the process leads to an improved understanding of organizational performance and helps decision-makers think about how best to work together to produce better results. While the AAR process does not seek to find fault, it emphasizes learning and review to achieve maximum involvement, openness, honesty, and improvement as it renews the cycle—test, review, evaluate, modify, implement, repeat.

So, when do you begin your after action review? You can implement it as soon as possible, even during an emergency or an event, so that your team’s observations and feedback are fresh and accurately describe what happened and how you responded.

And how do you get started? Your review process will produce an after action report that summarizes what took place during the event, analyzes the actions taken by participants, and identifies areas of improvement. The after action report can follow this suggested framework and you can improve data collection and analysis by distributing a questionnaire to each department so that you receive pertinent information uniformly:

  1. When the review was completed (during an incident, after it, or both)
  2. Who participated in the review including job title and department. You’ll need to get feedback through interviews of key personnel from all departments of your organization, such as HR, IT, facilities, security, sales, marketing, operations, and finance.
  3. How the incident impacted the organization with a summary from each department that includes a timeline of events, the response procedures that the department took, who did what in each department so you can identify roles and responsibilities, the recovery measures each person rolled out, and the effects of the incident on continuity operations.
  4. Identify what went well and why, specifically the successful steps each department took in response to the incident.
  5. Identify what could have been done better and the deficiencies that you must address to ensure an improved scenario in the future. What advice would you give to future AAR process stakeholders?
  6. Determine your improvement plan and how you will implement corrective actions and the responsible parties and estimated completion dates.
  7. Prepare to repeat the cycle with this incident and the others that you will inevitably face.

I have participated in a number of AAR meetings, and one of the most memorable occurred after the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. As you can imagine, it was quite an extensive process and we reviewed an exhaustive list that covered a multitude of security measures including equipment requirements, air space restrictions, badging procedures, and security post positions. The bottom line is you can use the AAR process as an invaluable resource to prepare for any emergency or evaluate any event or project because the fundamentals are the same no matter how large or small the incident is—identify what worked and what didn’t and continue with what worked and fix what didn’t.

Many organizations have found that an outside professional with an AAR process background can facilitate the process more effectively because they can be objective and focus on best practices from their previous experiences. Because you lived through your incident, you are more influenced by emotion, personal connections with your co-workers, and the potential trauma of the incident itself. Your goal is to evaluate effectively and learn—so you are prepared.


To Stay Safe, There Should be a “YOU” in T-E-A-M.

While there’s no “I” in T-E-A-M, there should be a “U” (YOU!) and also an “US” in your security team—so that you can keep your people safe.

You need to surround yourself with a strong team with different skill sets that complement your own expertise so that you can create, enhance, or breathe life into a holistic security strategy.

Who is in charge of security at your organization? Do you have a dedicated security department that regularly conducts training on workplace violence mitigation and response to active shooter incidents, among other topics? Or is security another area added to the myriad of other concerns your HR department is responsible for? And if you are in charge of security for your organization, do you have the support and resources to implement the safety, security, and compliance initiatives you know you need?

Protecting Your People Is Your #1 Priority.
You must have the proper measures in place to protect your employees and visitors, a combination of technical, physical, procedural, and personnel processes effectively in sync to protect your people and warn against potential danger. Start with an assessment of your current security environment so you’ll know what you have and what you lack. And begin to identify people inside and outside your organization who have the skills and knowledge to develop and promote your security strategy.

There’s “HR” in Team, Too.
The scope of the assessment will include HR areas as it identifies the policies you’re missing from a best practice based collection—like an updated drug policy if your state has legalized medical or recreational marijuana, a domestic violence policy that reflects your state’s laws, and an Internet policy that clearly defines company expectations of online behavior and activity. You can work with HR to ensure you have all these as well as safe termination, code of conduct, and access control policies, among others. And be sure you are updating, reviewing, and enhancing them regularly.

“IT” Is Also in Team.
Some organizations give IT oversight of their technical security measures, security improvements might be under IT budgets, or at the very least you might have to coordinate with IT to ensure your alarms, turnstiles, cameras, and card readers are working and talking to each other. Your security technologies systems integrator will also be an important member of your team, confirming, among other things, that all your doors will lock during a lockdown, will deny entry, and will allow your people to exit during an emergency.

Get First Responders on Your Team
You should have a relationship with your local police, fire, and emergency medical personal, which means the first time you meet them should not be during an emergency. These professionals are integral parts of your security team and you can introduce them to your facility so they know how to access it, how many safe rooms you have identified and where the emergency exits are, and who they will communicate with during an emergency.

Plus Consultants, Mental Health Professionals, and Forensic Psychologists
Mental health professionals can lend their expertise to investigations of concerning behaviors that could lead to workplace violence. Forensic psychologists can play a leading role in threat assessments that will contribute to your safe workplace. And if you’re in need of a consultant who can serve as a trusted advisor, we happen to know one. Just call—we’re here to help in whatever way you need us.


5 Areas To Focus On In 2020 To Keep You Safe

You need an enterprise holistic security strategy that protects your people, properties, and assets. Now. Today. If not today then definitely in 2020. Even if you haven’t budgeted for any improvements next year, start envisioning what you want your organization to be like, create your strategy, write your plan, and then start implementing the goals and objectives that will make your vision a reality. These 5 areas will get you on your way to keeping your people safe.

1. Conduct an assessment.
An assessment will tell you what you’re doing well and where you’re exposed to risk. It gives you a baseline upon which to build your strategy and reminds you to align your physical, procedural, personnel, and technical security measures. Plus, you will ensure that your security posture is at a best practice based level by benchmarking with industry best practices, similar organizations, and cutting edge initiatives—all combining to safeguard your employees so they can do their best work.

2. Evaluate your Emergency Management Plan.
When was the last time you reviewed your emergency management plan (EMP)? Or practiced it? Or trained your employees on it? Your EMP should be customized to your location, align with the DHS recommended phases of emergency management—prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery—and incorporate the titles and language of the ICS (Incident Command System). By following these directives, you and your employees will be more prepared in an emergency and able to more effectively coordinate with first responders during lockdown, evacuation, shelter-in-place, reverse evacuation, or whatever response is appropriate for the situation.

3. Enhance your training curriculum.
Without consistent efforts to educate your workforce about how to maintain and improve their safety at work, many of your employees will not know what to do in an emergency. And because training is a perishable skill, you need to implement a dynamic curriculum that encourages active participation from your employees so they can respond appropriately during all emergency events, including active assailant, fire, power outage, and weather. By empowering your employees to develop their situational awareness, they can also learn to identify concerning behaviors that could lead to workplace violence—ultimately serving as contributors to their safe workplace.

4. Update your policies and procedures.
Your policies and procedures are only effective if they are up-to-date, comprehensive, and shared with your employees on a regular basis. If they are sitting on a shelf in a binder, they might have checked a box at one time, but they are most likely outdated. Do you want the policies that protect your employees to be a secret? Or ineffective? From code of conduct, drug and alcohol, and social media use to bomb threat checklists, visitor management, identification badging, and access control, your polices and procedures exist to keep your organization running smoothly and safely—and you need to make sure they are doing their job.

5. Don’t be complacent. Strive for excellence.
Do you want to just be “good enough” when it comes to safety and security? Your employees expect more and deserve better. Your security posture is only as good as the detail and effort you put into it. No one can be satisfied with an EMP downloaded from the Internet that’s not updated with the actual emergency exits and safe rooms at your location—because your employees need to know where they are during an emergency when time is of the essence and lives depend on them knowing where to go and what to do. Update, enhance, review, benchmark, aspire, inspire, evaluate, assess. Your employees will thank you.


3 Ways to Make Your Workplace Safe

An effective, holistic security strategy ensures your workplace is safe for all employees. It controls access to unauthorized people, includes policies and procedures that establish guidelines for appropriate behavior and operations, and prioritizes safety and security in all messaging, training, and documents. So how do you know if the security presence at your organization is at a best practice based level?

Think about what you currently have in place. Do you have a security strategy that includes policies, procedures, and measures designed to protect your employees and visitors? A holistic security strategy covers all the bases by combining the strengths of an assessment, emergency management plan, and training—a security assessment identifies what you have and what you need to protect your people on a daily basis, an emergency management plan outlines how to care for your people in an emergency, and training educates your people about workplace violence, risk factors, and the proper response to different types of incidents they might face. Your objectives, budget, and timeline determine your next steps.

A Security Assessment Establishes What You Have—and What You Might Need
A safe and secure workplace reflects best practices in physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security. And they must all work together to protect your people, property, and assets. That means your access control system, cameras, duress alarms, and other technical security devices are aligned with physical security measures like doors, locks, gates, and fences—and that these security disciplines are supported by trained security professionals and policies and procedures that prioritize safety and security. A security assessment will evaluate your current security posture and offer strategic considerations for improvements to achieve a best in class security environment.

An Emergency Management Plan Safeguards Your People When the Unexpected Happens
You can then use what you learn in the assessment to determine how well your organization addresses the four phases of emergency management as supported by the Department of Homeland Security: prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. A clear, comprehensive, and detailed emergency management plan focuses on these four phases and their critical emergency-related priorities during all hazards including natural (weather), accidental (power outage), and criminal (active assailant). A plan tailored specifically to the circumstances of the emergency and your property helps to ensure safety for staff, visitors, clients, and contractors when the unexpected occurs. The plan also ensures coordination with local first responders.

Workplace Violence Mitigation and Active Assailant Response Training Creates an Educated Workforce
A holistic strategy is stronger when you educate and train your employees on workplace violence mitigation and the proper response in an emergency. By enhancing their situational awareness, your people can take a proactive approach to identifying concerning behaviors in the workplace to keep everyone safe. They will understand the importance of “if you see something, say something”—and what that “something” could be—and how your current policies and procedures protect them. By exploring DHS-recommended principles of emergency management along with Run. Hide. Fight., they’ll know what to do and where to go in an emergency.

A 3-Part Security Strategy Protects Your People
Each service can stand on its own with its specific goals and objectives, but their individual strengths combine to help to ensure a safe workplace during daily operations as well as in an emergency. Ideally, an assessment would first establish your overall security presence, the plan would tailor the four phases of emergency management to your specific location by identifying safe rooms, assembly areas, and relocation sites and coordinating with local first responders, and the training would help your employees recognize signs of concerning behavior and show them what to do and where to go if the emergency calls for lockdown, evacuation, or shelter-in-place.

When you learn how each service interacts and builds upon each other, that understanding leads you to more informed decision-making that determines next steps based on your budget, priorities, and timeline. While the ideal sequence is assessment, plan, and training, you may choose to manage the project differently based on your current capabilities. We’ll work with you to customize each service to maximize its effectiveness and provide options to assist your decision-making process.


Be True to Your School: Keep It Safe and Secure.

With school starting this week in the city of Chicago, I was interviewed by Fox 32 Chicago about school security as school shootings have become part of our society as demonstrated by tragic incidents in Florida and Texas earlier this year. Some school shooters have posted material on social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram that in retrospect warned of trouble. Behavioral health professionals working with law enforcement, school administration, teachers, parents, and counselors can collectively assess, manage, and help individuals exhibiting signs that indicate a potential path to violence.

Since emergency events can happen anywhere, we need to be prepared to protect our schools against any type of nefarious incident, whether intentional like an armed assailant, accidental like a power loss, or natural like a weather event such as a tornado, hurricane, or snowstorm. And 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.

Back to School
When it comes to protecting your school, now is the perfect time to evaluate and compare your policies, procedures, personnel, physical measures, technology, and training against industry best practice standards in security, safety, emergency preparedness, incident response, compliance, and legal requirements. A campus-wide security assessment can identify your current assets, staffing, and resources so that you will know if you are prepared for any emergency you might have to face.

You should also evaluate your technical security solutions to determine their effectiveness, such as closed-circuit video surveillance equipment, exterior and perimeter security systems, electronic access control systems, automated alerts, and information-sharing capabilities. Understanding your security capabilities can determine if adequate measures are in place for protection, safety, and security, if they are functioning properly, and if your staff is trained properly to operate these technologies.

Teach Your Children Well
Teaching in an academic environment is not limited to reading, writing, and arithmetic. Education in security includes awareness and education materials, as well as training initiatives to develop a multimedia approach that best meets your institutional needs. Emergency preparedness, fire prevention, and active shooter drills, among many areas, are examples of training specifically designed to enhance security and safety at your school.

All departments involved in daily school activities should work closely together to provide guidance and training in the areas considered sensitive to the well-being of students whether on- or off-campus. You can also offer presentations on subject matters such as social media etiquette, toxic relationship warning signs, and sexual assault prevention to students, teachers, staff, and parents.

Move to the Head of the Class
There is no singular solution to preventing school violence. An armed security officer and metal detectors are strong countermeasures that offer mitigation; however, other practices and procedures need to work in concert for your overall security program to be holistic. You’ll feel poised to handle threats to your school when you feel confident in your security. And you’ll feel confident in your security when you work with a security professional who can help you determine where you’re meeting industry best practices in securing campuses—and where you can enhance your current environment to reach a higher level of safety.

After you evaluate and modify your safety and security policies, processes, programs and systems, you can roll out changes immediately. Don’t wait until an incident occurs to start. You can schedule an orientation for your constituents—students, employees, contractors, visitors, and parents—and include police, fire, and other external stakeholders so you can work together and everyone understands his or her role in an emergency.

You Never Stop Learning
Training is a perishable skill and you need to keep educating yourself to stay up-to-date with emerging threat scenarios as well as the most current and innovative measures to counter these dangers. Training enables you 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.

In the event some type of incident, emergency, or other activity occurs that requires outside assistance, subject matter expertise in crisis management can provide counsel to your leaders and decision-makers for the duration of the incident. Experienced security consultants can participate as trusted advisors or active contributors, working closely with all parties including law enforcement, public relations, judiciary, media, and select stakeholders. This support ranges from preemptive to reactive, and your response can be tailored to the incident so that your programs, policies, procedures and partners will all work together to create a safer school.

We’re Here to Help
G. Michael Verden, founder and CEO of The Lake Forest Group (www.lakeforestgroup.com), is a former police officer, Director of Security for the NBA, and retired Secret Service agent with 21 years of experience protecting the President and First Lady as well as large scale events like the Super Bowl, Olympics, Inauguration, and national conventions.


Before Run, Hide, Fight: Prepare, Respond, Recover

Power in Numbers
With active threat incidents top of mind for many of us due to recent events and continuous media coverage, I contacted a select number of professionals in my network to ask for their insight on current best practices to mitigating an active threat, whether the attack came from a firearm, explosive, or vehicle.

Fortunately, my colleagues stepped up in a big way—thank you!—and I received more than 100 responses, a real testament to their dedication and professionalism. So in an effort to continually share relevant and informative content to help keep all of us safe, I have condensed, highlighted, and organized what I learned from them and now pass along their expertise. The key to mitigating an active threat comes down to three critical components: 1) Preparation, 2) Response, and 3) Recovery.

Run, Hide, Fight
Thanks to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the public is familiar with its safety recommendation of “Run, Hide, Fight.” Also the acronym “ALICE” (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) has become common language to many of our citizens. Both responses are dynamic and can save lives, which is the paramount goal of all emergency management planning. While this information is invaluable, it is not enough to craft a holistic approach. In plain language, you need to mitigate an active threat before, during, and after an incident and here’s why.

Prepare
Preparation begins with an assessment of current capabilities to determine the difference between what you have and what you need by reviewing the physical security measures, security technologies, policies and procedures, personnel numbers, emergency management documents, and incident reporting protocols to understand your level of competency. Based on this knowledge, you can make educated decisions regarding procurement as well as support to enhance areas not yet considered at a best practice level according to industry standards.

After determining the resources and skill sets internally (security, legal, emergency management, HR) and externally (police, fire, emergency medical), you can establish a training curriculum that will adequately prepare your workforce and first responders to coordinate and integrate your mitigation disciplines. Your training strategy focuses on how employee or student activities, building management, daily operations, access control, visitor management, emergency preparedness, and incident response work together to ensure safety.

Respond
Training can also teach how to integrate individual functions with multi-entity operations. You should ensure all stakeholders train to, exercise, and become familiar with response—because successful response implementation depends on the key measures necessary to mitigating casualties in the interval between the time of an attack and the point when first responders arrive on the scene. If properly identified, planned for, and practiced, the emergency medical and first aid capabilities of internal staff can also benefit your response efforts.

Response also requires a coordinated joint approach among response partners to deliver crisis information to ensure timely, accurate, accessible, and consistent communications across multiple stakeholders, to minimize confusion and dispel rumors during an incident. Messaging should take into account the challenges of your organization to ensure successful communication, including different languages spoken, hearing and visually impaired personnel, and technology used to share information. Also, you can use social media to distribute information rapidly to prevent inaccurate or misleading news.

Recover
Any emergency incident disrupts essential functions, services, and capabilities across an entire enterprise or institution. Even if the incident did not occur on your property, you can still be affected. Organizations, both government and private sector, located in and near the incident may experience disruptions of routine operations and/or loss of infrastructure or critical systems. Effective recovery planning and operations increase resiliency and ensure you can continue to provide essential functions and services after an incident.
Examples of questions you need to answer to determine your organization’s competency level for mitigating an active threat:
• Do you have memorandums of understanding (MOUs) or mutual aid agreements (MAAs) in place?
• Do your strategies align with the four phases of emergency management (prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery?
• Do you have a property-specific emergency management plan in full compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the Incident Command System (ICS)?

We’re Here to Help
Protecting human life is the paramount goal of any active threat incident. We can work with you to construct a tailored active threat plan that addresses specific areas of concern, like an active shooter or bomb threat, and provides you with a planned response and recovery to protect against all hazards, such as accidental (chemical spill), intentional (armed assailant), or natural (weather). Emergency preparedness is a 24/7 mission and we’ll partner with you to ensure protecting your people is always your top priority.


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

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

Train the Trainer

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

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

Are You Ready For Some Football? 

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

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

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

All Hazards Emergency Plan Covers It All

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

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

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

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

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

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

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