Incidents like last night’s always sadden me but this time around, I am beyond that. “See something, Say something”, Situational Awareness, and “Run-Hide-Fight” are among the things we have been teaching people in hopes that they will be able to prevent something like this and to aid them in reacting when an incident unfolds in front of them. But what happens when you can’t see the suspect’s behavior because he/she is across the street on the 32nd floor of a hotel room? Or when running, hiding, or fighting seems impractical? Although I make it a practice to let those I teach know that the aforementioned are tools to provide options for when something unfolds, as we witnessed last night, every incident is different and there will be times when nothing that you have been taught seems like the right thing to do. As we sit in prayer, and wait for more details to emerge, let us remember that this should encourage us to keep learning, and training, and improving because one thing is for sure: This has set a precedent for copycats all around the world, to include those homegrown and international terrorists who are constantly looking for their next chance at easy targets. As you watch reactions from those on the ground last night, and as hard as it may be, try to visualize yourself there and think about what you would have done. One tool you may want to add to your tool belt is knowing the OODA loop. OODA stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act. In the midst of mass chaos and confusion, it may seem impossible to do, but I believe the more knowledge you pack yourself with, the more empowered you will be for when something happens, and not if. My heart goes out to all the victims and their families and pray all will find the strength needed to heal.
The tragic deaths of New York Police Officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos over last weekend have placed an even bigger spotlight on the ever increasing threats of lone wolf attacks. While law enforcement agencies nationwide continue to warn their officers of such threats and urge them to maintain their situational awareness at the highest levels, it is important to note that the difference between a security officer uniform and a police officer uniform can become irrelevant to an attacker who is out to prey on anyone wearing a badge and patches. Perhaps the only difference that an attacker may notice is that many security officers are not armed, thus making them a softer target.
What are your security officers being told in briefings?
Do your security officers recognize the existing threats and how it may impact them?
How many of your officers operate in the, “It won’t happen to us” mindset?
Aside from providing your officers training, consider tasking your officers to train themselves by visualizing different scenarios of the many different threats they face while in uniform. Visualizing such scenarios can enable them to develop appropriate responses to these threats but more importantly will allow them to think of questions about certain responses. Those questions can begin productive discussions amongst the team and managers to determine best practices to use should the threat, or should I say WHEN the threat presents itself. Needless to say, it may also get those “It won’t happen to us” mindsets to change and therefore increase officer awareness. As we always say, Security should be a Mindset, Not a State of Mind. I would love to read your answers to the questions above!
A couple of years ago, a company that we will keep confidential due to the sensitivity of the report we are summarizing suffered an active shooter incident that was perpetrated by an employee of that organization. After the incident, a comprehensive study was conducted to assess the workplace climate and culture within the facility where this incident occurred. The assessment, conducted by a third party contractor, revealed that even though employees were overall happy with the company, their job duties, benefits, and compensation, there were key cultural themes that contributed to a significantly unhealthy climate and culture within that facility. Included in these factors were:
* Absence of leadership – Where it was apparent that some leaders failed to identify and/or acknowledge the dysfunction within organizations they serve
* Negative perception of managers – Employees perceived their managers to be more concerned about how they are viewed by top management and less concerned about how their own employees viewed them
* Decision Making – Employees felt like no manager ultimately took responsibility for things that went wrong thus they felt like employees were often blamed for any failures
* Work-Life Balance – Employees felt like there was a lack of an effective system for ensuring balanced workloads and at the same time that they could not ask for help or extensions because they feared they would be viewed as trouble makers by their supervisors or managers
* Communication – Where it often was delayed, lacked details, felt filtered or to be disingenuous. There appeared to be an over reliance on email, texting, or written forms of communication between managers and line employees which in turn was causing an interpersonal effect that failed to produce personal relationships
* Safety and Security – Employees noted that before the active shooter incident, security efforts at their facility was “lax” citing that other facilities owned by the organization are secure and require ID badges to move to and from departments. Employees acknowledged that a secured facility would not have prevented the incident since the shooter was a fellow employee; however, they believed that a more visible security team may be a significant deterrent
* Employee Recognition – Simply put, employees felt like managers took all the credit when things went right, but blamed them when things went wrong
* Employee Appraisal Process – Employees felt like appraisals were unwieldy and confusing, sometimes being pejorative and critical without being constructive or offering actionable expectations for the employee’s development
* Inconsistent application of HR Policies and Practices
The facility assessed is comprised of approximately 1,800 employees including executives, managers, supervisors, line employees, and contractors. Although this assessment revealed little about security concerns in this organization, it places the spotlight on climate concerns that may eventually lead to employee distrust and/or intensified stress/pressure with no outlet. This assessment also sheds some light on the importance of culture studies and an even higher importance on the timing of such studies. Much like your health, car, or any machinery and networks, the climate of your organization requires “preventative maintenance” so deficiencies can be identified and worked on before they become problems.
As the saying goes, “Hindsight is 20/20” and unfortunately many organizations do not realize that using another’s hindsight as a prevention effort is not only acceptable, but responsible. Whether your organization is comprised of five employees, or 10,000, we recommend you take time to consider some the following workplace violence prevention efforts:
– Develop a manager/leadership training program that develops those junior leaders, in the company corporate climate, the legal aspects of being a manager, including having a working knowledge of basic HR issues, not necessarily to be able to handle specific, HR related questions and concerns, but at least have the ability to answer general questions.
– Conduct a culture and climate study of your organization and make the necessary adjustments or remedial training where needed
– Consider including your security manager in the planning and review of your wellness program
– Conduct specialized, focused security awareness training which should include Workplace Violence Prevention unique to separate audiences within your organization such as:
* Threat Evaluation Team members
* Managers and Supervisors
* Employees and Contractors
– Establish a confidential reporting system that will keep the reporting party anonymous
– On a quarterly basis (at least) C-suite personnel should review culture trends such as absenteeism, LOAs do to stress, Workman’s comp claims, and disciplinary actions and should follow up on issues or deficiencies
– Make an effort to promote employee wellbeing and morale by conducting team building events, town hall meetings, and enhancing employee benefits based on the organization’s climate. It should be noted that having “Town Hall” meetings requires follow through so that concerns or accolades presented in that open forum are acted on and not simply dismissed as the usual “employee complaint session”. Action on those issues needs to be measured and visible.
We believe that if you invest in the people responsible for serving those who invest in your organization, your dividends will inevitably increase.
Proper Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. Perhaps you’ve heard there are five, maybe 6, or even 8 P’s to this mnemonic. Regardless of the variables, the principle message, relating it to workplace planning is the same:
Hire the right experience, as a preemptive measure, to create an effective workplace violence prevention program that supports your organizational goals and is well aligned with the company culture. Training and practice drills should be the norm; not just a one time exercise and everyone, top management included, must be committed to the program 100%.
It is often said that practice makes perfect. We say practice creates a habit. A habit then becomes a mindset which will, in turn, enable everyone to subconsciously be alert to the possibilities and more prepared to respond should that possibility ever become a reality.
The 7 P’s At Work
During the unfortunate tragedy of September 11, 2001, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. lost 6 employees. Although those were 6 lives too many, they were 6 out of the 2,700 employees that worked in the south tower. Among them were Vice President of Corporate Security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla and two of his security officers who remained in the ill-fated building to conduct a final sweep of their floors. As Mr. Rescorla’s Memorial page puts it he, “Died Like He Lived: A Hero.”
As the head of security for Morgan Stanley, Rick Rescorla understood and followed the 7 P’s. Before the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, Rick and his security consultant and long time friend, Dan Hill assessed the building and determined that a major vulnerability existed in the underground garage; a finding that Mr. Rescorla brought to the Port Authority’s attention but was ultimately ignored. After the attack in 1993, Mr. Rescorla recognized that the building would inevitably be hit again and even recommended that Morgan Stanley move out of the World Trade Center. When his recommendation was not followed, Mr. Rescorla made it his mission to protect the lives of those he was entrusted with the next best way he could. Mr. Rescorla would go on to develop the company’s comprehensive emergency procedures plan and was even successful in having the Port Authority upgrade some of the building’s emergency equipment. Mr. Rescorla constantly conducted drills in which even the company’s top executives participated, and he was successful in developing each and every employees’ mindset. In a short film that highlights Mr. Rescorla’s heroic acts, survivors constantly make mention about what Rick had always told them and every survivor interviewed, credits Mr. Rescorla for their safe evacuation from the south tower. It should be noted that the orders for Morgan Stanley employees to evacuate came from Rick Rescorla despite the Port Authority asking the building’s occupants to stay on their floors. One can only imagine just how much worse this nightmare would have been for Morgan Stanley had their employees not been conditioned and committed.
Why the 7 P’s Matter
Owners and executives may mean well, but if they do not understand the threats or vulnerabilities their businesses face, they will not be committed nor support the program 100%. Without the proper support, even the best plan will run the risk of being ineffective. Without Morgan Stanley’s commitment to its plan, the proper prior planning and preparation efforts by Rick Rescorla would have most likely not produced the same favorable results.
Below are some important tips to consider when developing or redesigning your workplace violence prevention program:
– Seek experienced professionals to help develop or support your plan. If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur.
– The plan must be centered on leadership. If the leadership recognizes the need, they will support the prevention strategies and be committed.
– Take into consideration employee wellness programs and company culture. Conducting a culture study of your organization may yield some surprising results that will help you recognize if a culture change is needed.
– Ensure the program has specific training layers that target each audience respectively such as line employees, supervisors, managers, and executives.
– Train, train, and train some more. Include realistic training such unannounced drills or secret role playing where you test a manager or supervisor’s ability to receive and investigate a report.
Owners of the U.S. Bank Tower in Downtown Los Angeles announced yesterday that they will be opening some of the tower’s top floors to tourists by creating an observation deck, a restaurant, and meeting rooms. In 2002, the building that is currently the tallest skyscraper West of the Mississippi was discovered to have been on Al Qaeda’s target list for what would have been a second wave of attacks after September 11, yet the plans to undo some of the security initiatives that were put into place immediately following the attacks are inevitably going to downgrade the building’s security posture.
As we move farther away from 9/11, America’s state of mind has slowly started to revert back to the pre-9/11 mindset which is why our motto, “Security should be a Mindset, not a State of Mind” is key to the education we provide. Security measures that were meant to be permanent, especially in Critical Infrastructures, should never be downgraded because ‘enough time has passed’. It is important for business owners to be reminded that just because nothing has happened in our Homeland over the last 13 years does not mean that our adversaries have not tried or are not continuing to plan. Let us not underestimate the adversaries’ resiliency because to them, once a target, always a target.
Mindset is defined as “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” It is an idea or inclination as to how a person will approach a situation. The survival mindset also referred to as the “Warrior” mindset is typically possessed by those in the Military, law enforcement and other first responder positions. It enables those warriors to develop an attitude of identifying threats, accepting their situation, and quickly mitigating or eliminating that threat.
Why Mindset Matters
How many first responders do you have in your organization? On average, it takes responding agencies three to five minutes if not more to reach your workplace in the event of an emergency. In most cases of workplace violence, by the time the responding agencies arrive, the perpetrator has already caused irreversible damage to your organization. In today’s world, employees have become the initial first responders as they will be forced to react to a workplace violence incident with one purpose in mind: Survival.
Integrating mindset development training into your workplace violence prevention plan does not mean training your employees to become weapon wielding warriors who will subdue and eliminate the threat. The best defense in prevention is identifying deficiencies before they become problems. Training employees to develop an attitude of identifying potential violence indicators and how to report them is one of the most effective ways to empower each individual. Along with good mindset development training, supervisors and managers must also be trained on effective hiring practices and how to handle reports that come in from concerned employees. It should be noted that training alone does not constitute a complete workplace violence prevention plan. It is equally as important for supervisors, managers, and executives to be engaged and well aligned with the company’s culture. Senior executives should consider reviewing the organization’s trends as frequently as they review their P&L statements. Among the trends to be closely monitored are leaves of absences due to stress, sudden and excessive absenteeism, and employee complaints.
At OmniPresent Security Group, we believe that “Security should be a Mindset, Not a State of Mind”. Our goal is to make security awareness a ‘second nature’ so employees can develop a habit of identifying warning signs and be inclined to automatically report them. Every program we develop is tailored to align with our client’s organizational culture and takes into account current and past statistical data of trends and incidents.
How can we help your organization?
“We have to change the culture one person at a time, one incident at a time,” said Cleveland Police Chief, Calvin Williams during a press conference about a father who shot and killed his toddler son during a domestic dispute early Tuesday. The man, whose name was not released, is allegedly a convicted felon who should not have owned or possessed any weapons. As Chief Williams put it, this tragedy may have been prevented if someone who knew about the weapon had called police.
We believe the “Should have said something” afterthoughts of family members, friends, and even neighbors are echoing louder and louder in the wake of these repeated acts of violence, such as the senseless shooting deaths of Las Vegas Police Officers Igor Soldo and Alyn Beck on June 8th. A neighbor of the two shooters admitted to reporters that she, “wished she had called police” on the shooters when they ranted about their plans to commit a mass shooting. Another neighbor, Brandon Moore, told the Las Vegas Sun that the shooters were “handing out white-power propaganda and were talking about doing the next Columbine.” Although police had visited this couple in February to follow up on some threatening remarks they reportedly made against a government agency in Indiana, at the time of the visit the detectives did not deem the couple a threat, but if more calls had been made, a clearer puzzle would have been formed.
The sad truth is that I could go on and on about what society could have or should have done to prevent a lot of the violence that has transpired over time, but my interest is in the future. How to move forward and finally, as society, learn our role in our own personal safety. Humans are not born trained killers. As such, anyone who commits these acts of violence will always show warning signs. Sometimes they are as obvious as the Las Vegas shooters’ and others not so much. So where do we begin?
MY VIEW ON THE STATE OF SOCIETY: As long as we have competent law enforcement, medical, and military personnel, we are safe.
While I agree that the competence of all our public servants is second to none, I believe that personal security starts with you. Pay attention to your surroundings, to what people are saying or doing. Am I asking you to become an overly paranoid or nosy human being? No. But take the time to listen to your inner self. That sixth sense that makes you get a funny feeling in your stomach or perhaps makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up when you see or hear something that just doesn’t seem right. Then, take the time to properly report it. Whether it be a simple click and a short explanation to YouTube about why you feel a video you just watched should be looked into, or a call to your local police station. Do it. It has proven to be an effective method to preventing horrific events such as the street vendor who notified police about the suspicious vehicle in Times Square or the aware citizen in a Minnesota town. When properly reported and investigated, bad things can be prevented.
GUN CONTROL AND RESPONSIBILITY: Much like a drunk driver, not the alcohol, is blamed for an accident that kills innocent people, the shooter, not the gun, is to be blamed for incidents that result in the deaths of innocent people. With that said, how the would be shooter obtains the gun that he/she will use to carry out an attack is something that needs to finally be resolved. Regardless of your political affiliation or beliefs, I am certain that now, more than ever, everyone can agree that the frequency of violent attacks has drastically risen. Now is not the time to continue the debate about the interpretation of our Second Amendment. “A well regulated Militia” is not stripped of its rights to keep and bear arms, but it is just that: Regulated. Enough lives have been lost because more than enough lawyers and law makers have been debating on words and interpretations. Stop the debates and start with actions. Gun owners need to also do their part by safeguarding their weapons to prevent minors from easily accessing them and also to minimize the chance of them being stolen.
PRIORITIZE SPENDING: Though we defer our safety to those in uniform, we limit their funding. Most police departments lack enough funding to hire the right amount of officers let alone to maintain an effective Community Policing program. Community Policing programs educate the community. We can’t change the culture without education. We can’t educate without funding.
This also applies to privately held companies’ workplace violence prevention programs. Chief Executives must recognize the vitality of funding a program that will effectively identify their business’ challenges and mitigate vulnerabilities through preemptive training that engages every member of their organization. Training just to check the box often does more harm than good. Training to maintain a culture that is inclusive and mindful of the employee’s well being is an excellent start.
Changing the culture does start with changing one person at a time. Start with yourself. Remember, you are society so in blaming society, you blame yourself.
The Associated Press has obtained documents that show Carol Lackner had been disciplined in 2010 for leaving her post without permission. Lackner was the guard who was supposed to be on post when 56 year old Jerome Murdough, a former Marine, died because he was left unchecked for at least four hours in a part of the jail that had a malfunctioning heater. Apparently Lackner’s logs show that she had conducted 30 minute checks as required, however, video footage does not show her doing so.
This is a much bigger failure than just a guard who lacks discipline. While it is assumed that employees do what they are supposed to, random but constant performance audits are a must. In this case, it would be interesting to learn what other discrepancies were found if the review of logs and video footage were to expand outside this investigation.
Remember, due diligence is more than a good faith exercise.
Police are now looking into a video that may be connected to the strings of drive-by shootings Friday that left 7 dead Including the suspected gunman, and seven injured.
The VIDEO posted on May 23rd shows a man suspected to be the shooter ranting about the lonely life he’s been forced to live and vows to slaughter those responsible. What is more concerning is that the video managed to rack upwards of 37.5 thousand views yet this tragedy was not prevented. The public must begin to recognize that this type of violence is on the rise and must do their part by reporting something like this. Let those responsible like YouTube and Law Enforcement determine the validity of the threats you report.
If you see something, say something.
Despite major cutbacks throughout the state’s education system, $25 million has been set aside for school security improvements.
The improvements planned include installing reinforced doors and shatter resistant glass. They are aimed to improving the protection of the students and faculty in the event of an attack, however, nothing was mentioned about awareness training for staff or the community. Our hopes are that some consideration will be or has been placed on ensuring faculty is well aware of what indicators look like and how to respond to them. Either way, while we wish budget cutbacks did not impact our education system, kudos to the state for prioritizing the safety of their students.