The world is a dangerous place and attacks against the uninitiated (be they individuals, hotels, corporate houses, school campuses, meeting venues, or places of worship) will continue to occur.
An effective security program is more than just having physical security measures in place. Like any man-made constructs, physical security measures -- closed-circuit television (CCTV), alarms, cipher locks and so forth -- have finite utility. They serve a valuable purpose in institutional security programs, but an effective security program cannot be limited to these things. Devices cannot think or evaluate. They are static and can be observed, learned and even fooled.
Also, because some systems frequently produce false alarms, warnings in real danger situations may be brushed aside. Given these shortcomings, it is quite possible for anyone planning an act of violence to map out, quantify and then defeat or bypass physical security devices. However, elaborate planning is not always necessary. Consider the common scenario of a heavy metal door with very good locks that is propped open with a trash can or a door wedge. In such a scenario, an otherwise “secure” door is defeated by an internal security lapse. However, even in situations where there is a high degree of threat awareness, there is a tendency to place too much trust in physical security measures, which can become a kind of crutch — and, ironically, an obstacle to effective security.
In fact, to be effective, physical security devices always require human interaction. An alarm is useless if no one responds to it, or if it is not turned on; a lock is ineffective if it is not engaged. CCTV cameras are used extensively in corporate office buildings and some houses of worship, but any competent security manager will tell you that, in reality, they are far more useful in terms of investigating a theft or act of violence after the fact than in preventing one(although physical security devices can sometimes cause an attacker to divert to an easier target).
No matter what kinds of physical security measures may be in place at a facility, they are far less likely to be effective if a potential assailant feels free to conduct surveillance, and is free to observe and map those physical security measures. The more at ease someone feels as they set about identifying and quantifying the physical security systems and procedures in place, the higher the odds they will find ways to beat the system.
A truly “hard” target is one that couples physical security measures with an aggressive, alert attitude and sense of awareness. An effective security program is proactive — focused on recognizing potential threats before they present themselves as active threats. We refer to this process of proactively looking for threats as protective intelligence.
The human interaction required to make physical security measures effective, and to transform a security program into a proactive protective intelligence program, can come in the form of designated security personnel. In fact, many large hotels, meeting places, and houses of worship do utilize off-duty police officers, private security guards, volunteer security guards or even a dedicated security staff to provide this coverage. In smaller congregations, security personnel can be members of the congregation who have been provided some level of training.
However, even in cases where there are specially designated security personnel, such officers have only so many eyes and can only be in a limited number of places at any one time. Thus, proactive security programs should also work to foster a broad sense of security awareness among the members of the congregation and community, and use them as additional resources.
Unfortunately, in many cases, there is often a sense in the religious community that security is bad for the image of a particular institution, or that it will somehow scare people away from houses of worship. Because of this, security measures, if employed, are often hidden or concealed from the congregation. In such cases, security managers are deprived of many sets of eyes and ears. Certainly, there may be certain facets of a security plan that not everyone in the congregation needs to know about, but in general, an educated and aware congregation and community can be a very valuable security asset.
In order for a congregation to maintain a sense of heightened awareness it must learn how to effectively do that. This training should not leave people scared or paranoid — just more observant. People need to be trained to look for individuals who are out of place, which can be somewhat counter intuitive By nature, the hotels, corporate houses, and places of worship are open to outsiders and seek to welcome strangers. They frequently have a steady turnover of new faces. This causes many to believe that in the hotels, corporate houses, or places of worship, there is a natural antagonism between security and openness, but this does not have to be the case. A gathering place, such as a hotel or house of worship can have both a steady stream of visitors and good security, especially if that security is based upon situational awareness.
At its heart, situational awareness is about studying people, and such scrutiny will allow an observer to pick up on demeanor mistakes that might indicate someone is conducting surveillance. Practicing awareness and paying attention to the people approaching or inside a house of worship can also open up a whole new world of ministry opportunities, as people “tune in” to others and begin to perceive things they would otherwise miss if they were self-absorbed or simply not paying attention. In other words, practicing situational awareness provides an excellent opportunity for the members of a congregation to focus on the needs and burdens of other people.
It is important to remember that every attack cycle follows the same general steps. All criminals — whether they are stalkers, thieves, lone wolves or terrorist groups — engage in surveillance (sometimes called “casing,” in the criminal lexicon). Perhaps the most crucial point to be made about surveillance is that it is the phase when someone with hostile intentions is most apt to be detected — and the point in the attack cycle when potential violence can be most easily disrupted or prevented.
The second most critical point to emphasize about surveillance is that most criminals are not that good at it. They often have terrible surveillance trade-craft and are frequently very obvious. Most often, the only reason they succeed in conducting surveillance without being detected is because nobody is looking for them. Because of this, even ordinary people, if properly instructed, can note surveillance activity.
It is also critically important to teach people — including security personnel and members of the congregation — what to do if they see something suspicious and whom to call to report it. Unfortunately, a lot of critical intelligence is missed because it is not reported in a timely manner — or not reported at all — mainly because untrained people have a habit of not trusting their judgment and dismissing unusual activity. People need to be encouraged to report what they see.
Additionally, people who have been threatened, are undergoing nasty child-custody disputes or have active restraining orders protecting them against potentially violent people need to be encouraged to report unusual activity to their appropriate points of contact.
As part of their security training, the hotels, corporate houses, houses of worship etc. should also instruct their staff and congregation members on procedures to follow if a shooter enters the building and creates what is called an active-shooter situation. These “shooter” drills should be practiced regularly — just like fire, tornado or earthquake drills. The teachers of children’s classes and nursery workers must also be trained in how to react.
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While having a local cop in a congregation is a benefit, contacting the local police department should be the first step. It is very important to establish this contact before there is a crisis in order to help expedite any law enforcement response. Some police departments even have dedicated community liaison officers, who are good points of initial contact. There are other specific points of contact that should also be cultivated within the local department, such as the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics Team) and the bomb squad.
Local SWAT teams often appreciate the chance to do a walk-through the hotels, corporate houses, house of worship etc. so that they can learn the layout of the building in case they are ever called to respond to an emergency there. They also like the opportunity to use different and challenging buildings for training exercises (something that can be conducted discreetly after hours). Congregations with gyms and weight rooms will often open them up for local police officers to exercise in, and some congregations will also offer police officers a cup of coffee and a desk where they can sit and type their reports during evening hours.
But the local police department is not the only agency with which liaison should be established. Depending on the location the hotels, corporate houses, or the house of worship, the state police, state intelligence fusion center or local joint terrorism task force should also be contacted.
The world is a dangerous place and attacks against anyone or any place will continue to occur at any time. But there are proactive security measures that can be taken to identify attackers before they strike and help prevent attacks from happening or mitigate their effects when they do.
Courtesy: HOW TO LOOK FOR TROUBLE – STRATFOR
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