Active Shooter a Microcosm of Our Society Impacting Workplace Safety and Security

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Active Shooter a Microcosm of Our Society Impacting Workplace Safety and Security

Posted on: January 25th, 2017

Intro by Felix Nater…

In this article my Special Guest Blogger, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Mike Wood, author of Newhall Shooting: A Tactical Analysis, and I collaborate to draw correlations between the threat of workplace homicides and the societal impact the active shooter and mass shooter has on everyone  no matter where we might find  ourselves.


Since we spend as much time at work as we do away from home, we believe whatever violence response training workplaces can provide must be as comprehensive and realistic as possible.

When workplaces make decisions to train on “Run, Hide and Fight” employers must understand that policies plans and procedures must be aligned. Can you tell an employee to fight as a measure of last resort when your workplace violence prevention policy says fighting or acts of aggression are against the policy?  This contradiction might freeze decisions and appropriate responses. Just saying!


When we tell the employee to run without proper training the employee might run into the shooter or while running away might be shot. Is there the possibility of creating unintentional civil liability consequences, which a skillful attorney might exploit during a civil lawsuit emanating from a serious injury or wrongful death allegation? I don’t know! What do you think?


It’s like “Zero Tolerance”–a well-intended policy but maybe too rigid and too structured. The employee who notices a co-worker exhibiting warning signs rationalizes his observations before reporting a co-worker knowing that his co-worker can be disciplined and even fired.


I do not encourage that workplaces undertake a frequency of an impractical training schedule on active shooter drills just because it is the right way to train. My point is that current training may not be addressing the workplace responsibilities or properly addressing the tactical common sense decisions needed to be taken.


What I do encourage is thoughtful training that realistically connects employee and management responsibilities and expectations. Training which fails to articulate what occurs in a real world shooting incident, and which only pushes out information, will assuredly produce more conflict, confusion, and misunderstanding, and increase risk for those involved.

Mike and I served in the military, where vital survival skills were reinforced through intensive,  repetitive training in order to make them more reflexive.  We understand that employers lack the time and resources to train to this standard, and it’s not realistic to expect that a workplace training program will build ” muscle memory” that makes responses automatic.

My law enforcement career as a United States Postal Inspector / Firearms Instructor and Threat Management Coordinator exposed me to realities typically encountered in the law enforcement community associated with serving search warrants, making arrests, car stops and training law enforcement personnel in scenarios they are most likely to encounter. Inherent in these scenarios are behaviors that must be understood and multiple simultaneous actions that must take place.


Well the same thing happens to employees or shoppers during a shooting incident. The “brain freezes” not intentionally but because there’s no stored information that the reflexes can draw upon. Fear overcomes the moment. There are tactics one can take to manage the moment that are not difficult to train to but can help the recovery process during the initial sounds of hysteria. When I audit this training I cringe at the lack of substance and correlation.


Suffice to say that we have expertise and specialized skills unlikely to be found in most workplaces. As such, training “employees” needs to create a training objective that allows employees to understand their actions, how to act out independently or in concert during the escape, evasion, evacuation procedures.


Because time, money and resources are limitations, training must bring clarity to what it is participants are most likely to encounter, what they need to “Know, Do and Why”. Absent clarity in the content presented will not improve survival and only add to the confusion.  There are tactics employees can take before encountering the shooter and encountering the police.


I am saying that training in active shooter / hostile intruder should be informative, enlightening, educational and realistic. To have real world value such training must empower the employee to know what to do and why, no matter where they may find themselves during an active shooting or mass shooting incident. If you are in a movie theater you know how to minimize risk. When caught in a mall or department store or open area know how to make better decisions.


* * * * *

Thoughts by Mike Wood…

The New Year had hardly begun when a terrorist killed scores in a shooting attack on an Istanbul nightclub, and we hadn’t even completed the first full month of 2017 when another shooter killed five and wounded more here in our own country, at the airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


While both of these attacks were horrific, neither was completely unexpected by those who were paying attention to the world around them.  We didn’t know the specifics of when and where the next “active shooter” attacks would take place, but we could be confident that they were on the way, in the same manner that we can predict there will be more to come.


We live in a world where the threats of attacks like these are ever-present.  Here in America, we have an increasingly violent criminal class which has become emboldened by failed public policies and the virulent anti-law enforcement culture which has taken hold in some communities.  Our mental healthcare system is broken, leaving untold numbers of emotionally disturbed persons, including many with violent tendencies, without access to proper care and supervision.  Additionally, there are a burgeoning number of foreign and domestic terrorists who would use violence to advance their political and cultural aims. In fact, our intelligence agencies have warned us that small-scale, asymmetric attacks like the Istanbul or Fort Lauderdale ones, are a preferred method of our enemy because they have a large impact while demanding very little in the way of resources or planning.


With all of these potential actors in play, it takes no imagination whatsoever to forecast that more attacks are coming.


So, what should you do about it?


The most important thing is to get your mind right. Accept the fact that it can happen to you. Doing so will help you to avoid the paralyzing effects of denial, and free your mind to solve important problems, should you find yourself subject to attack. Would you rather stand frozen in shock in the wake of an attack, or take immediate action to save yourself and others? The choice is yours to make, and it begins now with an acceptance of reality, and the appropriate programming of the mind.


Accepting that you could be the target of attack will allow you to change your behaviors in a positive and proactive way.  If you’re conscious of risk, then you’ll become more aware of your environment, and will do a better job of detecting and avoiding potential trouble. You’ll see the threats and indicators that people who walk around with their noses stuck to smart phone screens won’t, and you’ll have the time to avoid them. You’ll also do a better job of weighing costs and benefits, allowing you to avoid some unnecessary risks entirely, by opting out of the activities that would needlessly subject you to them.


Despite our best efforts to detect and avoid problems, trouble still has a way of finding us at times. In those cases, the more prepared we are to deal with trouble, the better off we will be.


From the perspective of mindset, we need to train ourselves that in an emergency (whether it’s a fire, a medical situation, or an attack), we will be active participants in our own rescue. If we are in danger, we must immediately take action to either remove ourselves from the threat, or terminate the threat, as conditions warrant. It would be nice to have help with this, but we cannot count on it, and we cannot delay our response until we receive it.  There is nobody who is more responsible for your personal safety than you, so you must take the lead role in rescuing yourself from danger.


Make that commitment now.  Train yourself to look for avenues of escape when you enter a room. Refresh yourself with the locations of alarms or emergency equipment in your workplace. Make mental notes of the things in your environment that could serve as cover, concealment, or makeshift weapons. Give yourself the permission to use righteous force in the defense of yourself or others. Mentally rehearse your response to an active threat. Take classes to educate yourself in first aid and self-defense, and ensure you have access to lifesaving equipment.


Do these things now, while you have the time and resources.  We know that more trouble is on the way, so the only question is whether or not you’ll be a victor or a victim when it comes.




What Does Workplace Violence Prevention Mean to You?

Posted on: September 9th, 2015

First off, what does your workplace violence prevention efforts look like to you? Is it a living document, a policy supported by plans and procedures? Is it reinforced with appropriate training? Can it withstand an unannounced OSHA Inspection? You have to be honest with yourselves in answering these questions if, you really want to dump the old and start out with the new ways of looking at WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION. An effective approach clarifies expectations, provides examples and implements policies, plans and procedures.

I am emphasizing the reliance on the helpful OSHA definitions, tools and support. I am asking you to create a proactive organizational response that reinforces their effort with the OSHA Workplace Violence Prevention guidance in developing your own prevention response. I think OSHA has been ahead of the game for years, it’s just that some of us worry about other people’s statistics and what others were doing instead of worrying about what your organization (workplace / educational institution) should have been doing at your own workplace setting.   

It doesn’t matter whether you are a school, college, university, processing or production plant, warehouse, government organization, office building, hospital, movie theater, mall or news station, you should consider a plan to prevent the threat of violence and minimize the risk of violence from a disgruntled coworker, intimate partner spillover into the workplace or the opportunistic criminal during an armed robbery or physical attack.  The plan must begin with an understanding of what WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION IS. While the belief is that larger organizations are adequately prepared, startups, small and midsize businesses are not immune from addressing workplace violence prevention. Their risk are higher when it comes to recovery and business continuity.”

Investing in a serious commitment to WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION is not a joke. You must first accept the reality that workplaces have a moral, ethical and legal obligation to provide for a safe and secure workplace for your workforce and stakeholders.  We are not just talking about employee on employee violence but, non-employee on employee violence and violence associated with armed robberies and other crimes of opportunity by criminals. However the tendency to wait for the “if” it happens will not allow you to have an effective WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION initiative. It requires a proactive mindset. Thinking about the minor nonviolent psychological incidents that can escalate and lead to conflict and confrontations tomorrow must be addressed today. These are known existing hazards that OSHA refers to in their regulations.

How many workplaces can honestly say that they design prevention measures intended to address the current employee threat, the former employee threat and or the domestic or intimate partner workplace spillover violence threat?  How many workplaces actually provide their field personnel, sales personnel and repairmen orientations and training on responsible behavior and risk mitigation measures?  That’s prevention at its best or its worst. How engaged is your Workplace Violence Prevention initiative? What are you waiting for?

So what does WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION mean to YOU? What does your program look like? Is it proactive or reactive?  A proactive WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION policy requires an investment in training your workforce in ways that help them understand what workplace violence is, what is the meaning of prevention and how to respond to non-violent at risk situations as well as violent threat posed by current and former coworkers and an active shooter or hostile intruder? How many CEOs, COOs, HR or Security Directors know that WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION is an ongoing process that involves multiple intervention strategies? A mouth full? YES! BUT, PREVENTION by it definition is the act of preventing.

So if prevention is the action of prevention it implies enthusiasm in what we do. Thus, enthusiasm and being proactive go hand in hand. Hence prevention is the process of preventing workplace violence.”  

If you know that you have a problem employee, remote employee workforce, employees that deliver service related customer services or that often engage with the public, you have an obligation to increase the employee’s ability to protect themselves and make independent decisions in the face of danger or how to recognize warning signs and at risk situations and personnel. With knowledge and awareness of prevention measures the workforce is empowered to make better decisions about managing the outcome when dealing with disciplinary issues, employee misconduct or at risk conditions. Remember! Prevention requires responsible supervision and leadership. Do not treat discipline as a “GOTCHA” because it can GET YOU.

Workplace Violence Prevention can run the gamut and is only limited by the program manager’s lack of enthusiasm, commitment and imagination. But for the sake of this discussion let’s throw out  a few multiple intervention strategies and tactics that could save the day: positive communications, engaged leadership, effective supervision, performance coaching, EAP counseling, managing one’s  behavior, approach to situations, engaging customers, working in high crime areas, traveling, entering building and elevators just to name a few.

Proper WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION is comprehensive but should not be complicated even though we know that workplace violence is a complex societal and environment reality. Nevertheless, WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION is a proactive process that focuses on the “when” and not the “if”.  Preparing for the “if” makes an assumption that the likelihood of any violence occurring is a small risk not worth spending our money on waiting for something to happen.  The thought seems to be that   “if” an act of violence or serious threat should happen we can call in the police to handle the threat. Whether your organization designs a methodological approach or defers capabilities to external consultants and the local police, the workforce must understand relevant terms in avoiding assumptions. Connecting the dots does not happen in a vacuum. It emanates from training content that supports the policy, plans and procedures in helping the workforce relate to warning signs, aggression, predisposition and opportunity. Leaving clarity to the workforce will not result in early warning or a proactive response. It becomes a wait and see attitude.

This is a bad attitude that will not only place the workforce at risk but place your unprepared approach in a collision course with a civil liability law suit, bad press or bad publicity. 

This  wait and see attitude is exactly what you do not want to be associated with. This attitude increases personnel risk and organizational risk as victims and witnesses will assuredly tell it like it is on the witness stand of truth. We know where to find the skeletons and in which closets they are hiding in.  I don’t know of any hard-working, trusting employee who when confronted with answering questions about a workplace injury or fatality will graciously protect their employer in the face of a charge of willful negligence. Don’t be fooled that loyalty is your payoff.  When co-workers are seriously injured by a workplace offender or killed incident to an active shooter or armed robbery encounter your trusted workforce will come out of the woodwork or be found by a sharp reporter working the crowd. 

Such a trusted employee witness will reluctantly tell his or her side of the story because they’ve known you’ve never taken WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION seriously.

Being compliant is a good thing but, it is NOT PREVENTION. CRISIS MANAGEMENT IS NOT PREVENTION. Think of WORKPLACE VIOLENCE PREVENTION as your workplace security insurance policy. In remembering the old Lee Myles Transmission advertisement, “Pay me now or pay me later” can easily apply in workplaces that were too smart for their bridges, too cost conscientious  or who decided that workplace violence prevention could wait until next year’s budget.  Don’t even think that way today.

Workplaces Are Vulnerable Havens Of Opportunity for Predators

Posted on: May 24th, 2015

REMINDER: Workplace Violence Prevention and Violence Response is a management commitment and investment that must roll downhill through responsible leadership and accountability. While the effort must be comprehensive it need not be complicated. A comprehensive methodology entails proactive, ongoing leadership responsibility that is part of an integrated, collaborated and coordinated effort organization-wide. The focus is always on PREVENTION in search of warning indicators and contributing factors. KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE – PREVENTION.

The Fort Hood Shooting incident as an atypical workplace setting, demonstrates JUST how vulnerable our workplaces are and how at risk our workforce is. Prevention focuses on the human dimension as part of a rehabilitative process that hopefully never gets you to the extreme aggression of homicidal violence.

Many organizations are still not prepared physically, emotionally or mentally. They hide the real world potential of a coworker or loved one “going postal” by avoiding the problem when they should be treating employees like adults. They resort to expedient training solutions that point their fingers at the workforce as the problem. Preparing the workplace and workforce requires a collaborative effort often not found through the Internet but rather by word of mouth experiences.

Unprepared workers will not respond and react under certain at risk situations involving an armed intruder as they would to a fire alarm or other type of emergency evacuation. This requires specialized training. Responding to an armed intruder or active shooter is not the same as responding to a fire alarm. Reporting at risk employees requires their trust in management’s resolve to take immediate corrective action and protect the sources.

Preparing for the crisis should not be a consideration on the day of the event.

Workplace Violence Prevention and Violence Response includes a coordinated management effort that “synergizes” the plan into a practical set of procedures in dealing with routine matters, reporting, monitoring, tracking and follow up, threat assessment, incident management and referral in seeking the best outcome.

Training must involve all employees and leaders in aspects of workplace violence prevention and violence response only as part of a strategic plan.

Program management has to be a shared responsibility between HR and Security with all other leaders coordinating the effort with and through HR and Security. HR can continue being the policy manager while Security can be responsible for the security response in conjunction with other senior managers in leading and coordinating the effort.

Fort Hood can be a valued lesson learned. If it happened in a workplace setting where leadership operates from within the small unit team through a structured chain of command that is charged with personal attention to Soldier issues, you know how vulnerable our workplaces really are.

The Comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Strategy and the Non-Violent Offender

Posted on: May 10th, 2015

Workplace Violence Prevention sends chills down the spines of most people who either are not familiar with the definition of workplace violence or whom dread the thought of such a horrific event be-falling their place of work or if caught in a public place. But the truth of the matter is that workplace violence prevention is not only about the horrific outcome of a disgruntled person, intimate relationship gone bad or public shooting spree. Workplace Violence in fact consists of low-level behavior and conduct that people resort to on their way towards exacting their vengeance.

It does not have to be horrific or “violent” but it can result in non-fatal acts of violence which are of an everyday workplace concern according to recent FBI and OSHA Data, than the actual horrific act of homicidal violence.

If you run scared and over-indulge in all the focus on Active Shooter or the disgruntled person with a gun on your property you might miss the value of workplace violence prevention in mitigating such an outcome. Over indulgence in the physical outcome might assume that workplaces are powder kegs of employees you hired who slipped through the cracks during your due diligence background screening. We are not dismissing the value of preparedness training as in the case of Active Shooter. Whether the perpetrator of a violent act is a student, employee or other organizational stakeholder the transition from non-violent behavior to thoughts of violence and then the actual act of violence can be detected.

During transition, the perpetrator goes through a process coined as the phases or stages of the Active Shooter. These phases or stages can be recognized. Having a Robust, Agile and Proactive (RAP) Violence Interdiction (VI) Workplace Violence Prevention Program will empower most workplaces to anticipate the problem by recognizing the warning signs, risk factors and contributing factors long before catastrophe strikes.

A comprehensive Workplace Violence Prevention Program encourages and empowers organizations to collaborate and integrate resources more efficiently to proactively combat the threat of workplace violence. Through integration of resources collaboration enables the organization to recognize associated behaviors and conduct in preventing more aggressive behavior and avoiding a homicidal act. Those organizations who employ Robust, Agile and Proactive Leadership will be better armed to recognize and address potential problems and take proactive corrective actions to avert escalation and increasing hostilities. But first, we must stop denying the threat and the risk as a real and present danger. This is a common attitude observed emanating from the fact that most organizations feel the solution is termination. Those who decide to take the leap into Robust Agile Proactive Violence Interdiction Strategy quickly realize that the workplace is at every level empowered and in control of their situations through increased awareness.

Eventually Workplace Violence Prevention is everyone’s responsibility.

A comprehensive workplace violence prevention initiative can help identify the behavior and conduct of the non-violent offender as well who resorts to the following behavior in exacting their retaliatory vengeance. These behaviors are the response by those who can’t face their “perpetrators” or whom want to take it out on the organization for doing nothing. Remember, these are the non-violent types who are not predisposed to violence but who feel equally aggressive in seeking retaliation. Here are some of the recent behaviors uncovered during recent consulting projects involving low-level incidents of workplace violence.

  • Downloading of viruses.
  • E-mail and threatening correspondence.
  • Sabotage and vandalism of personal and organizational property.
  • Malicious product tampering.
  • Systems sabotage.
  • Theft or compromise of proprietary information
  • Theft or sale of client lists and trade secrets.
  • Civil claims of discrimination under Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).
  • Claims of false terminations.

You can anticipate some of these risks and exposures by being proactive. I thought this book provided by an associate might be of interest to you as part of your efforts to protect your organizations from potential threats posed by the non-violent offender against your computer systems. The book, “The Zealots Guide To Computer Security 2013” can be purchased On Amazon Now. This book on Network security practices and architecture for networks is easy to understand and it serves as a self-tutorial teaching you how to implement better network security measures. The author Brian Taylor is an expert in his field and someone who understands the threat posed by the disgruntled person as well. Remember! The Disgruntled Employee does not have to resort to physical violence or have the courage to commit the act of homicidal violence. However, this person can be devious, and creative in sabotaging systems, operations, vehicles, equipment and personal property. Vigilance is imperative with this perpetrator.

Is Workplace Violence a Real Threat?

Posted on: January 11th, 2015

Is workplace violence a real threat? Did you know that over the past 10 years, most significant surveys on the topic of workplace violence rated the threat of workplace violence in the top 5 security concerns? What does this say about the real impact it has on a business?

In a 2005 Department of Labor Special Survey it reported in 2006, nearly 5% of 348K of the establishments surveyed experienced an incident of workplace violence in the last year. While 1/3 reported a negative impact to employees, only 11% changed their policy after the incident; 9% of those had no program or policy. (Source: US Department of Labor, Survey of Workplace Violence Prevention, 2005) Since the 2005 survey, between 1992 and 2012, there were 14,770 workplace homicide victims, or roughly 700 a year on average, according to federal government statistics. Incidents involving firearms are of concern. Gun violence resulted in 78% of the workplace homicides in 2010. Because gun violence cases tend to get the most public attention, they may seem more prevalent than they actually are. Nevertheless, workplace must understand what is workplace violence prevention.

Though for the most part workplace violence is workplace related, it is always about work but something exacerbated at work. It’s easy to assume “disgruntled workers” are usually to blame. But that’s not necessarily the case. In about two-thirds of workplace homicides, the assailant has no known personal relationship with the victims, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. These relate to public shootings.

Then there are instances where a victim of domestic violence may be attacked by an abusive partner at work, said Christine Walters, a workplace violence expert who advises the Society for Human Resource Management. FBI statistics suggest that employee victims and witnesses report their victimization and observations outside their workplaces. Employees want a credible, trusting workplace violence prevention initiative that’s accountable and responsible for problem resolution and not only  discipline. Sometimes we all become victims of circumstances.

Sitting and listening to warning signs and risk factors is important but many adults have experienced one or more of the warning signs. Does that make them at risk? Focus should be on recognizing aggression and aggressive behavior.

Today workplace’s still appear not to consider proactive workplace violence prevention and violence response a business-security priority. The tendency is for employer’s to save money by scheduling this important training to busy human resource, employee labor relations and training personnel who may or may not be qualified to credibly deliver such training. Justifying their budgets, employers are not delegating workplace violence prevention and violence response (active shooter) training to local police departments and other “free” offerings. Free from an experienced based consultant can have tremendous value when focused as part of your workplace violence prevention and workplace security planning considerations.

Did you know that the incidents which lead to workplace violence are business security concerns because it affects people, premises, property, image, performance, production, efficiency, morale and relationships. If one were to research the topic you would discover an encyclopedia of knowledge on the topic?

The survey said that employees can be affected by workplace violence in a number of ways including increased fear, lower morale and higher absenteeism. Employees in 36% of the establishments having incidents of workplace violence in the previous 12 months were negatively affected.

If that is so, why then is it that even though the Department of Labor’s 2005 Special Statistical Survey on the topic supports the discussion that workplace violence is a viable safety and security concern is the commitment perceived to be so anemic?

We suggest that the commitment requires an ongoing security awareness to protect people, premises property from internal and external predators that requires the use surveillance and monitoring technology, ongoing orientation and training seminars and unique policy and programs to address the problem.

The resultant negative image from one disgruntled employee’s act of violence can have an adverse impact on public and employee perceptions. In many cases as we saw in the Anthrax scare, post offices closed because employees did not feel safe and management did not want the risk.

The business bottom line is affected as reduced employee performance, production and efficiency become the other victims of the incidents of workplace violence.

Female employees rather quit or request transfers than be exposed to threats of violence or sexual harassment.

Injury compensation claims increase as employees find ways of hiding their victimization under different covered ailments to retain their employment thus innocently protecting those culpable and responsible.

A lack of confidence in management’s commitment and the possibility of increased harassment and victimization as a result of any report that are made are additional factors. Rather than feel the wrath of the perpetrator and even coworkers nothing is said.

Inordinate amounts of dedicated resources might be dedicated to investigate incidents of workplace violence in determining what protective measures to take.

And last but not least, employees and supervisors might not know that incidents of workplace violence begin with a bad word, name calling, a racial slur, a sexual innuendo, perceptions of disparate treatment, unfair selections for assignments, promotions and awards and the list goes on. These behaviors though considered inappropriate are not defined as unacceptable. Worst, the permissive environment creates acceptable behavior.

Incidents of workplace violence can lead to physical altercations, sabotage of personal and business property, theft of property, nuisance phone calls, stalking, harassment and verbal abuse & cyber security concerns.

I know of an elderly female employee who was the victim of constant harassment and verbal abuse by a younger male employee. Although resources were committed to investigate and curtail the behavior, the male employee continued harassing the elderly employee. To get even the employee intensified his attacks. One day the male employee was badly beaten. While correlation was never made between the victim’s sons and the assault, one can only imagine how this behavior can affect others.

Workplace Security and Event Security are Synonymous

Posted on: December 28th, 2014

Here is a light hearted approach to addressing event security and the relevance to workplace security. When discussing the level of security at your workplace or at an event, both have synonymous meanings to the security expert, the differences being the type of facility and the type of guests. The added value found at the event is a potential gathering of key personnel with their staff from companies promoting a product or assessing the potential value a product or service. Usually they gather to meet others but often to validate the need for a product or service. In any case, we have a gathering of prospective clients from a variety of cities, states and possibly countries who might not want to take the risks.

How willing are key personnel to travel to events or exhibits following September 11, 2001 and the increased sense of security especially essential for key personnel? To attract the right persons to attend events and exhibits, security measures and precautions must consider the concerns of guests who might want to attend but are not certain of the Event Planner’s capability to provide adequate security protective measures.

Travel and event security is another synonymous partnership inseparably linked to any diminished interest and attendance on the part of Fortune 500 firms who do not want to risk the safety and security of their key personnel whose exposure might be an appealing target to terrorists, kidnappers or hostage takers. Event Security and Workplace Security are also tied to Travel Security; all require a Threat Assessment and Risk Plans. Gone are the days of convenient travel and in are the stringent security measures and travel delays. Attendance at events has to have measurable appeal before an investment is made in attending. How confident are event planners in believing that the event is worth the inconvenience without the consideration of any security planning or a security conscious environment capable of addressing most situations including emergency evacuation, crisis communication and emergency preparedness to include hospital and first aid treatment coordination.

Event Planners that do not factor the security needs of key personnel as a value selling point might be missing an opportunity to show the maturity of the event planning process in terms of safety and security. Such oversight might discourage key personnel from attending or firms from sending their representatives. Event planning and security are appealing selling points worthwhile considering that must be exploited in order to provide a workplace environment for the exhibitors and guests that consider their personal safety and security. Long gone is the notion that security is taken for granted by both the potential attendee and the event participants. With an ever increasing security awareness and presence of professional security personnel on staff, key personnel are more aware of potential threats due to risk assessment and the value of attending an event.

To attract the right guests, Event Planners might want to consider integrating security planning with the event planning process. This added feature does not require full time resources but the advice, recommendations and assistance of an expert during the event. Having this resource will enhance the Event Planner’s reputations while bolstering the planner’s image in the eyes of the guests who perceive safety and security assurances. Generally speaking getting the right person to an event probably will entail a threat and risk assessment to convince the target audience of your capability to provide assurances for a safe and secure event.

An event security plan might consider deploying plainclothes security personnel, uniformed personnel at entrances and occasional patrols, access and egress controls, CCTV and public announcement system capabilities, badges for everyone, lockers or storage areas for exhibitor’s personal belongings, parking lot patrols, first aid equipment at strategic locations and trained personnel familiar with the local medical facilities, coordination with local police and fire departments and a hasty emergency preparedness plan for the event specific workplace. These are but a few recommendations you might consider when planning an event and expecting to draw a larger participation. Remember, street level crimes are popular in such settings so access control must be enforced. Personnel issued badges must wear them. Those not wearing them must be challenged. Thefts are not discovered until the perpetrator has left the area, pickpockets love crowded areas, computers grow feet, pocketbooks and carrying cases disappear and cars are stolen.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Workplace Security – The Emerging New Threat

Posted on: October 26th, 2014


  1. Workplace Violence Remains a Business Concern
  2. The Emerging Threat
  3. Case Study

Workplace Violence Remains a Business Concern

From all available research and recent studies, Workplace Violence continues to be a major business security threat facing the workplace today followed by Business Continuity/Business Interruption and Terrorism, Pinkerton Security Survey.

Dr. Robert F. Hester in article entitled: Business Continuity for Small Businesses said, Safety, security and preparedness aren’t routinely a focus in our lives. Being on guard is not something Americans enjoy doing. Still danger and threat never go away; only fades in memory.”

The Emerging Threat

The use of email and the internet by disgruntled employees who wish to cause a person, or a business harm is the new emerging threat causing business executives considerable angst, so say a variety of current surveys and research.


While traditional company approaches suggest that the problem typically deals with the hostile behavior of a disgruntled employee or the escalation of disputes between employees; security directors also include the risk posed by the armed robber and the opportunity criminals as workplace security concerns.


That was the traditional perspective. Not factored into the traditional equation is the calculated threat posed by the “Insider” who has privileged access to the company Intranet, business email, company files, remote access and management, and oversight via his or her computer. The advent of remote access has further muddied the waters.


New, non-traditional approaches to the Prevention of Workplace Violence and Workplace Security do not disqualify any potential threat to the safety and security of the workplace, hence the discovery of new more potent threats. These innovative approaches require an analytical perspective that looks beyond the walls and into the world of minimized detection and maximum damage.


No longer should responsible officials limit their scope to preventing escalation of violence between employees; companies are at risk. New, harder-to-detect methods have arisen for employees to exact revenge or “make a point”.


One new retaliatory measure at employees’ disposal involves network “privileged access”. Devastating damage can be inflicted using such access. While we await the other “Threats from Within – the Terrorist” to strike, the new “lying in wait” culprit is the “privileged user” who might be a current employee, former employee, vendor, or contractor with access…who has an ax to grind or score to settle.


What makes this perpetrator extremely dangerous and drastically effective is access. The physical access controls that deny unauthorized intruders do not deny the privileged user access.


“For many years external security threats received more attention than internal security threats, but the focus has changed. While viruses, worms, Trojans, and DoS are serious, attacks perpetrated by people with trusted insider status – employee, ex-employees, contractors, and business partners-pose a far greater threat to organizations in terms of potential cost per occurrence and total potential cost than attacks mounted from the outside”. (“The Enemy Inside”, Kristin Gallina Lovejoy, CSO, April 2006).


Following this thought process, one quickly surmises the magnitude and capability of this perpetrator’s reach. Gone are days of risking exposure; this perpetrator chooses to wait for the opportunity, lay a trap, sabotage systems, disrupt operations and even transfer company files to competitors. “Getting even” takes on new dimensions.


And so, now we have a new, broader profile and threat to contend with. The traditional “going postal” profile: Males, 17-60 years of age, holds a technical position, being married… does not matter anymore.


The new profile is racially and ethnically diverse and can come from a broad pool of employees. These are the new suspects. Common amongst perpetrators, though, is the perception of victimization and revenge and the facility of theft of information, conflicting interest, abuse of privileges and disgruntled behavior. Whereas the act of violence is physical in orientation, the Internet or Computer Predator chooses this medium of retaliation that is cleaner and has a faceless victim.

Case Study:

An employee of a major government agency, feeling victimized by coworkers and sensing no intervention by management, resorts to acts of retaliation and revenge.


Initially he adapts to the common threats of physical harm, which include use of his vehicle, and verbal threats through the escalatory phases, which included death threats. Fortunately, he did not ever get the chance to deliver on his believed threat. While searching the internet for bomb making materials, his unsuspecting supervisor happened on his computer terminal accidentally, as he returned from an early lunch. He found the employee browsing at a bomb-making website.


Sensing a serious breach of user privileges, superiors were notified, and the computer was isolated and confiscated. An examination of the hard drive revealed an interesting forensic footprint.


Upon investigation, it was disclosed that the employee was on the last phase of his bomb-making venture, having left the purchase of the last ingredients as the last step.


The employee admitted to his actions but denied his intentions. Because his intent was not clearly established, no criminal charges were lodged. Suffice it to say, anyone can see the potential for, and potency of the power of abuse, for a computer with its built-in tools.


Why does this innovative approach matter? It matters because the workplace is the most exposed target for any predator with a revenge motivation, a terrorist bent or driven by greed and manipulation. Countermeasures call for a return to astute vigilance and new policies.


What can you implement immediately? Change passwords for ex-and former employees. Lock out contractors, vendors, and business partners at the conclusion of official business dealings, and establish clear policies, guidelines, and procedures – with consequences for breaches and criminal violations.


To efficiently evaluate all visible and camouflaged areas of risk, create experience-based policy development by consultation with a qualified security consultant.


When the policies have been set, secure the mindset and daily habits of managers and employees with follow-up implementation and education by the security consultant.


Not every company is fated to become a victim statistic in a publicized study or survey. Use a broad, innovative approach. In addition to securing against Workplace Violence using traditional methods, protect against the new, emerging threats that cause concerned managers considerable angst, engage a Security Consultant when necessary, and protect the health of employees and your business.