Safeguarding the President on Inauguration Day

On Wednesday, January 20, the 59th Presidential Inauguration was held at the U.S. Capitol, the site of a recent riot and serious security failure resulting in several fatalities, extensive property damage, and multiple physical injuries. What can we learn from the events of January 6, 2021? As a Secret Service agent, I can offer some perspective having been involved in previous Inaugurations and other major events.

More than a suit—a plan.
Oftentimes, the public’s image of the Secret Service is a federal agent dressed in a suit with sunglasses and earpiece protecting the President. I did protect the President and First Lady, but two other assignments were directly related to protecting buildings such as the U.S. Capitol as well as major events, like the Inauguration. As an agent, I assisted in constructing security plans for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, and as Director of Security for the NBA, I participated in security measures for the Athens Summer Olympics.

Just like you, only different.
We can see a lot of similarities in security planning for large scale events and planning at your organization, except, of course one is on a much larger scale. Using best practices, we ensure physical, technical, procedural, and personnel security work together, we coordinate with other internal departments and external agencies, and train so everyone understands their role.

When I was assigned to the Secret Service’s Major Events Division, I designed security plans for events designated as National Special Security Events (NSSEs), including the Inauguration, State of the Union, and the Olympics. For NSSEs the Secret Service designs the security plan, the FBI is responsible for crisis management, such as what we experienced with the riot at the Capitol, and FEMA is onsite for consequence management if an incident occurs. These different agencies work together, share information, and assume delineated areas of responsibility that maximize their respective strengths.

This Inauguration was always going to be different.
Due to concerns with COVID-19, this Inauguration was always going to be different than its predecessors, with scaled back or cancelled events, such as the parade. And after the riot on January 6, the Secret Service and other partner agencies adjusted the security plan even further. They collectively identified potential vulnerabilities by assessing what they had and what they needed in terms of personnel, physical, technical, and procedural security—and all must be optimized and work together in order to be successful:

  • I’m sure you’ve seen the influx of National Guard troops with about 25,000 Guard members on the ground in Washington, D.C. Personnel from other local, state, and federal agencies will also join them and coordinate their efforts.
  • The area around the Capitol and National Mall has physical barriers like fencing with barbed wire on top and bollards to protect against vehicles with explosive devices. Additional restrictive areas have also been set up to limit the flow of traffic and people, also extending to rail stations and airports.
  • Security technologies include cameras that use both facial recognition to identify individuals on watch lists and license plate recognition to spot any reported suspicious vehicles.
  • Procedures, directives, and official orders outline the combined decades of security expertise of members from disparate agencies in the common objective of executing the plan and protecting the President, First Lady, members of Congress, and all visitors attending this ceremonial demonstration of our democracy.

An emergency management plan protects you from just that—emergencies.
Every event, organization, company, and agency must have a security plan to prevent and mitigate potential incidents and an emergency management plan (EMP) to respond in case something does happen. An EMP, among many things, establishes a reporting structure to manage the emergency, proper response protocols to safeguard people including evacuation, shelter-in-place, and run, hide, and fight, and a communication system to transmit vital information that can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

Practice really does get you closer to perfect.
A lot goes into an effective security plan, program, and policy. And that was very apparent when I was designing the airspace security plan for the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, four months after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The word on everyone’s mind and from everyone’s lips was “security.” This Inauguration is no different—and neither is your own organization. You must design a plan, put security measures in place that support it, and train your people on it. Just having a security plan, measure, or officer does not make you safe and secure. You must strengthen your security through scheduled training customized to the needs of each stakeholder.

Always be better.
Every plan can be improved. Communicate with partners, share information, and make sure you take the time to review an event, or your own security program, at least once a year so you can update it and make any adjustments to fix what didn’t go well—and be prepared for whatever comes next.

 

We’re here to help.
On Inauguration day, you were able to see me on local Chicago news programs sharing similar information about protecting the peaceful transition of power and our 46th President. When you’re ready to talk about your own security challenges and protecting your people, contact me at [email protected] or 312.515.8747.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


Super Bowl Needs Super Security

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

Strength in Numbers                                                       

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

It’s Important to Know Your Role

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

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

Divide and Conquer

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

What Else Goes Into the Plan?

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


Robert Allenby’s 19th Hole Drives Case for Protection

What happened to Robert Allenby could happen to anyone, but when an incident involves a high net worth professional athlete like Allenby—ESPN ranks him 27th in all-time top money leaders at more than $27 million—the importance of personal protection escalates. Whether these multi-millionaires like it or not, high profile often invariably accompanies high net worth. Thanks to the ubiquitous presence of social media and the Internet, every moment in the lives of our socially-engineered celebrities is played out on a world stage. The exposure becomes more magnified and noteworthy whenever even the slightest hint of scandal or some type of wrongdoing surfaces. The reported tawdry combination of alcohol, injury, robbery, kidnapping, and strippers makes for a scintillating backdrop to a viral headline-grabbing storyline.

For the last several weeks, we have watched the saga of professional golfer Robert Allenby played out in the media. While some of the details of the events still remain unknown, Honolulu police recently confirmed the arrest of Patrick Owen Harbison on second-degree identity theft, second-degree attempted theft, and unauthorized possession of confidential information. Harbison was identified on surveillance video using Allenby’s credit cards. According to Allenby, over $20,000 in fraudulent purchases had been charged to his stolen credit cards.

Much of that night is still a mystery, but we do know that on the night after missing the cut for the Sony Open, Allenby went to the Amuse Wine Bar. Videotape shows him leaving the bar at 11:06 p.m., but Allenby does not recall the incidents that led up to him waking up in a nearby park without his wallet, credit cards, or phone, and with fresh cuts to his face and head. After returning to his hotel, Allenby posted images of his bloodied face on Facebook, claiming he had been beaten, robbed, and thrown from the trunk of a car; however, he later clarified that a homeless woman who helped him escape from the park had related those events. At this point, the police have not linked Harbison to a kidnapping plot and are not pursuing any other leads related to this aspect of the case.

With the benefit of hindsight, which always gives us perfect 20/20 vision, I’ve been able to dissect this situation to suggest some risk mitigation strategies to implement that would help to avoid a repeat performance. Let’s start with the victim in this case, Mr. Allenby. As I alluded to earlier, with fame and fortune comes media exposure and personal disclosure. The result is little to no privacy when in the public eye, which in this case was at a drinking establishment. The first rules of safety for everyone from college students to high profile individuals are to be aware of what you are consuming and never let your drink out of your sight. Someone could have spiked Allenby’s wine with some kind of drug that caused him to lose consciousness—and his wallet.

Another consideration is to surround yourself with people you can trust, who have your back, and who would never let something like this happen. Reportedly, Allenby’s caddie was with him, but that individual is better equipped for handing him a club to escape the dangers of the rough than spotting predators preying on the rich and famous. Personal protection starts with employing the services of a security professional who has experience in executive protection, protective advance measures, intelligence collection, and counter surveillance, which all combine to mitigate personal risk.

Here are some examples of what could have been done to safeguard Allenby from the unfortunate set of circumstances of that night in Honolulu:

Executive Protection

By assigning an executive protection specialist to accompany the protectee when in public areas, a trained professional is able to identify someone who is focusing an unusual amount of attention and interest toward the protectee or exhibiting signs of potential harm. Also, a person who is working—and not socializing—sends a clear and compelling message to the bad guys that they may want to reconsider their plans. This person should be a highly-skilled professional trained in protective security responsibilities, including access control measures and practices and the ability to screen and filter anyone seeking access to the protected individual.

Advance Measures

An advance provides structure to account for all events that comprise a schedule and can be conducted if plans to go to places like a restaurant, theater, shopping mall, or pubic venue are known ahead of time. Typically, the site is visited, points-of-contacts established, emergency egress determined, and familiarity with the location attained. Now if something bad happens, contingencies are in place to properly respond to and recover from the incident. To reach optimum protection, a thorough process is used to analyze appropriate risk control measures and implement interrelated countermeasures and protective security methods.

Intelligence Collection

Intelligence collection is mainly done through liaison with the proper authorities, specifically federal, state, or local law enforcement. These entities are invaluable resources to provide relevant information that could impact the person being protected or the event attended. Maybe there’s a planned demonstration and the police advise that the last time this group protested multiple people incurred serious injuries. Armed with this intelligence, the function can be avoided, saving some wear and tear on the client. In addition to this knowledge, appropriate and practical countermeasures and solutions can be offered to discreetly enhance the level of security while at the same time reducing the level of risk.

Counter Surveillance

Counter surveillance is especially important because it is one of the few security measures that allows for threats to be dealt with before they can develop into full-scale attacks. One common denominator of all the different potential threats—whether from lone wolves, militant groups, common criminals, or the mentally disturbed—is that those planning an operation monitor their target in advance. Regardless of the length of time surveillance is performed, the criminal or terrorist conducting it is exposed, and therefore vulnerable to detection. Because of this, counter surveillance—the process of detecting and mitigating hostile surveillance—is an important, though often overlooked, element of protective security operations.