The recent string of hurricanes and other tropical storms caused a massive amount of destruction and disruption that is severely affecting millions of people across thousands of square miles. The rescue and recovery efforts need to match that immense scale in order to effectively restore the situation. More than twenty thousand federal employees are currently providing assistance in the Caribbean islands alone.
Multi hazard events like a tropical storm require a large amount of resources of wildly varying types, and everything from the generators brought in to non-powered areas, to the relief supply lines need to be protected from thieves and criminals, many who are now in more desperate circumstances than they have previously experienced. Handling this task is possibly the most effective security organization in existence - the U.S. Military.
More than 30,000 members of the National Guard were considered for deployment before the first storm struck, and with contributions from all other branches of service they have taken up the majority of security operations in the disaster areas. This in addition to their well-publicized relief and rescue efforts. The military is understandably quiet on the details of an active defense operation, the enormity of their effort should not be overlooked.
The economy of America and the well being of her citizens is reliant on the transportation of goods; almost everything that is consumed or used across the country has likely travelled a great time and distance from production before being put into use. Each step in the transit process sees the product handled by a different set of hands, each of which represents a unique security risk.
Losses from large scale and organized commerce thefts are calculated at billions of dollars every year. However a greater threat comes from spontaneous and small scale pilfering – when a large number of people have potential access to the goods and strong loss prevention protocols are not in place it can be easy for a small amount of product to go missing unnoticed, which quickly adds up to a total amount of inventory shrinkage estimated to be higher than that from direct losses. This is particularly a threat in areas where goods are transferred between couriers.
For warehouses and storage yards with goods, many of the usual security protocols should be applied. Strong access control steps should be taken to ensure it is a secure and controlled area. All areas containing merchandise should be well lit with clear sight lines to any position where containers may be opened. Incoming trucks should follow the same route whether dropping off or picking up a shipment, and be properly documented in arrival, departure, and in every action performed on its cargo. A well planned and operated security procedure will both decrease the risk of product loss, and increase the efficiency of a less structured operation.
The most common threat that security and protection enterprises encounter is that of theft. It is in most cases impossible to recognize a thief before the plan to commit the crime is put into motion; even a suspicious and obviously out of place character could be just a decoy to draw the attention of the defenses in place away from the real theft as it is committed.
As is often the case, the worst damage is done from unexpected sources that are allowed unchecked past the defenses. The US Chamber of Commerce estimates that annual losses from employee theft are greater than equivalent period losses from burglary, robbery, and car theft put together. The same operational security procedures can help minimize both of these issues - constant vigilance in observation combined with complete accuracy and objectiveness in documentation will reveal many theft attempts before or as they happen, if the observer knows what to look for.
It is an unfortunate aspect of the human psyche that any vulnerability will be preyed upon by opportunistic thieves, vandals, and con artists. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, with Hurricane Irma days away from assaulting the Gulf Coast, countless criminals are looking to take advantage of the victims when they are at their most vulnerable.
Multiple cases of impersonations of federal and emergency response personnel have been widely reported, including supposed FEMA employees looking for fraudulent payments to cover nonexistent insurance. Attempts to scam money in similar ways are widespread, a common attempt being door to door solicitors claiming to be contractors that remove water or repair damage, that in fact disappear after receiving a down payment.
The recovery process for Harvey alone has been estimated to take three years. Many properties will be too damaged to function for an extended period of time, yet contain materiel too valuable to leave unattended, and pose an insurance risk in the case of vandals or trespassers. There are many invaluable security lessons that will surface as new forms of intrusion and deception are studied and the unique difficulties presented during recovery are overcome.
Our hearts and prayers are with all the victims and their families of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and we hope they can all remain as safe as possible.
Essential to the success of a protection operation is a clear understanding of what actually threatens a property. A retail store, off-shift factory, and a high security facility will all have vastly different, but equally valid security needs. They have different assets that need protection, and different means of intrusion would be used to get to them. Implementing a security plan designed for a different type of property can be highly ineffective.
To ensure that the security plan is both reliable and flexible, and also practical enough to be effective, the property itself should be visited and explored during the plan’s creation. Consultation can be done with officers who have protected that or similar sites, and previous break-ins or incidents at similar environments reviewed. The plan should be a living document that both the security provider and client requesting the service are open to the possibility of modifying if the operational situation changes.
When there is a full comprehension of the environment and risks that it faces, a complete operation can be realized. Putting together deterrent factors, depth defenses with delay barriers, and reaction protocols help to make a property as secure as possible.
As automation becomes more advanced, less expensive, and easier to obtain, more and more duties will be given to machines that were once the job of live humans. There are indeed many benefits to taking people out of harm’s way or off of menial tasks, and it is a process unlikely to slow down.
Though a robotic security officer may be able to patrol and report some types of incidents completely autonomously, that is only effective if it doesn’t decide to drive itself into a pool of water as the model in Washington DC recently did. Whether that should prove to be the baptism at the birth of AI security, or proof that robots can never fully replace humans, it shows that there is still a long way to go before the constructive reasoning and decision making of the human brain can be removed from the equation.
Full reliance on machines can become an issue with systems much less complicated than synthetic patrol officers, which has also been highlighted in recent events, including the Australian traffic camera system that was infected with a virus, and sent out thousands of false tickets automatically. Even with no Internet connection, a maintenance mistake is believed to have affected hundreds of cameras. These are but two of many examples to illustrate that while technology is improving, it cannot be relied on without human oversight as a failsafe, and that if an incident or intrusion does occur, there is no substitute for having a trained responder on site at the property.
environment design In regards to the perception of security in active operation, the most common image that comes to mind for most people is possibly a security officer monitoring a CCTV camera feed. While the use of cameras by patrol watchmen is not as ubiquitous as the popular image implies, it is still a highly cost effective form of detection that is a part of many physical protection plans and enhances the effective range of a security officer.
One of the most important factors in its success is the location the camera is placed at. A camera needs to be pointed at an occurrence of interest, whatever that may be, in order to be of use beyond deterrence. One way to cover the most activity is to monitor entry points as part of an access control program. Covering main entrances or stairwells can ensure all persons who enter a property will pass under a camera at some point. Automatic entry systems can be monitored to ensure no unauthorized entries are made, including at vehicle gates.
The deterrence value of a camera system should also not be forgotten. Having a visible camera can stop many acts of crime, theft, or vandalism that may have proceeded if the potential criminal did not believe they were being actively watched or recorded. When coupled with good lighting and environment design, cameras can be one of the most effective important tools in a protection plan.
Clear communication is always a necessary element for a protection plan to operate properly. When creating an operational plan for a special event or irregular gathering, especially when dealing with large crowds, special considerations must be made in regards to the security personnel’s contact procedures and equipment.
For large events, local management, organization, or tenants will often have their own line of communication already set up. The security team must understand the existing network’s function on its own and adjust the function in a security context accordingly. It is vital for the security officers to have access to that channel in the event of an emergency, however it may or may not be best to allow all security to operate on their own dedicated channel depending on the congestion levels of the radio channels. Security can also liaise with the operators of scoreboards and PA systems to coordinate a protocol for warning messages.
There are many other ideas to consider when coordinating an event, such as radio frequencies, the need for headsets or earpieces, and press policies. With a higher amount of operational variables that officers may need to confront, event security requires a higher level of communication understanding and procedure.
The performance quality of both audio and video recording and playback has seen enormous improvement over the last few decades. Video improvements are easily noticeable and commonly incorporated through all levels. Most prominently in security with HD CCTV systems, with digital storage and playback being much more user friendly than analogue tape systems. While audio technology has gone through similar improvements, they are frequently overlooked and sometimes not applied.
Whether in an emergency or routine communication, unheard and misunderstood commands can have severe consequences and at best interfere with the efficiency of the security operation. While two-way radios are still the most common means for security officers to communicate with each other, even the most basic modern models have vastly improved transmission and speaker quality compared to what was recently the industry standard. And as with all aspects of modern communication, cell phones have completely changed the process of contacting guards or supervision and informing them of changes such as updates to post orders.
While many of the duties in security are well known, it is less commonly realized that when an incident does occur, the involvement of the officer present may not end as the shift does and they will need to make a testimony as a witness in court. Though likely few need to be reminded of the procedures of a courtroom, some of the preparations necessary for an officer to make before their appearance are worth reviewing.
Preparing for the testimony does not begin the day of the trial, or even at the beginning of the incident; in fact the officer must start each shift with the possibility that his actions may be reviewed in mind. Reports made as part of a daily job routine are not considered hearsay and are admissible as evidence. Keeping the record straight from the time of the incident will prevent false memories or outside influences from poisoning the testimony with inconsistencies, which would remove the ability to ascertain the truth and doom the trial to failure.
While opinions on appropriate dress vary by company, our guards do not show up to court in their security uniforms, but instead take a professional civilian look. On the witness stand officers should always react neutrally, only giving facts and not opinions. As with all testifiers in court, security officers should know as much as they can about the opposition’s intentions, and make sure their own notes and talking points follow normal legal guidelines.