How Can My Organization Improve Our Security and Emergency Preparedness?
Because we hear this question from a lot of our customers, we asked a security consultant, Chad Smith, to write about steps that you can take to provide a safe and secure environment for your patrons and staff….
There’s no way around it: today’s institutions must be prepared to deal with threats and emergencies. The number of deadly episodes at venues, churches, events, etc has leapt in recent years. Places of worship, education, and work have increasingly become the targets of violence, making security a topic that no organization can afford to ignore.
- Implement Emergency Preparedness Planning
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, and the best way to prepare is to develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) for your premises. All EPPs should contain a vulnerability assessment of the entire property, including procedures to prevent crimes and acts of violence at the site and response procedures for any natural disasters or acts of violence that might occur. This may seem like a daunting task. However, most schools and government facilities already have EPPs in place that can be easily adapted for your organization. Seek recommendations from local law enforcement or a professional security consultant.
- Form a Safety & Security Team
Hiring professional security officers is not a viable option for many organizations. However, many organizations already have volunteers and staff that, with the proper training, can comprise an effective safety and security team. Staff and volunteers that are current or retired law enforcement or military are ideal candidates for these positions, because they likely already possess the training necessary to recognize and respond to emergencies.
- Provide a Ready Way to Communicate
Outfitting your safety and security team with readily accessible communications equipment is a must. Fast and effective communication between team members is vital for preventing or responding to threats. High quality 2-way radios are a good, but bulky and expensive option. For greater convenience and scale, team push-to-talk apps are another great option, allowing your security team, staff, and volunteers to all communicate efficiently in real-time. This allows for widespread, 2-way information flow, which is critical when personnel are dispersed and seconds count.
- Control All Access Points
Because of their public accessibility and welcoming nature, many organizations are routinely viewed as “soft targets” by persons with criminal intent. To insure the safety and security of your staff and visitors, all building entry points must be controlled or at least monitored 100% of the time. Safety and security team members posted at entry points can still maintain a welcoming demeanor, while visually accessing individuals and the immediate area for threats. As another layer of security, team members should be assigned to patrol parking lots and watch for suspicious behavior.
- Form A Threat Assessment Team
While there is nothing you can do to prevent a natural disaster from striking, some instances of workplace violence and targeted attacks can be prevented, if the threat is identified beforehand. The preventative work of a threat assessment team is an often overlooked, but vital part of keeping campuses safe and secure. The threat assessment team watches for, evaluates, and deals with any suspicious or threatening behavior. The team should be made up of senior staff, safety and security team members, and a current law enforcement official. Recommendations for setting up and maintaining a threat assessment team may be sought from local law enforcement or a professional security consultant.
- Perform Background Checks
All organizations that house and foster children should develop recurring background checks for all volunteers and staff, regardless of whether their position is related to children. If an organization knew or even should have known that a person with a history of harming children is on staff or a volunteer, the organization may be liable. More importantly, protecting children within an organization is one of the greatest responsibilities entrusted to any institution. Most organizations limit background searches to specific departments and often use free, online searches, which are not thorough enough. All background searches should be performed by an experienced, professional firm, and should be performed annually at a minimum.
For more information, please feel free to contact:
Chad Smith, President
Chad Smith & Associates (CS&A)
Security Consulting and Investigations