The Erin Andrews Case Exposes Hotel Security

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

The Naked Truth

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

Loose Lips

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

Spread the Word

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

Asleep at the Wheel

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

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