Security culture changes after civil unrest

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As ubiquitous as “Stay Safe” has become an email signature or closer conversation, more retailers and businesses are putting the words into practice.

After civil unrest that wreaked havoc in major cities last summer and more recently the assault on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters on Jan.6, companies are taking stock of their security plans. As the potential for civil unrest is increasingly of concern to many retailers and businesses, more and more businesses are trying to be proactive in protecting their employees, customers and businesses.

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Well aware that Wednesday’s inauguration will be one of the most unique in the country’s history, Kevin Davis, director of the advisory services division of GardaWorld Security, noted that there are currently 20,000 troops in Washington. , DC. “With the combination of private security, law enforcement and the military, there is no greater [security] presence all over the world right now as in the areas surrounding the United States Capitol and Washington, DC This is in response to what many people perceive to be a huge gap on January 6. I’m not drawing any conclusions or pointing fingers. I think it will take up to a year to figure out what went wrong and who is responsible, ”he said.

With over 30 years of law enforcement experience, including serving as the Baltimore City Police Commissioner, Davis joined GardaWorld in May. “The way people perceive the ebb and flow of security. Think back to September 11. I am not comparing January 6 with September 11. On September 11, thousands of people lost their lives. But it was certainly an important moment in the history of the United States. Our security culture in America has changed especially at airports after September 11th. I think our security posture will change after January 6, when it comes to relatively open and accessible public buildings, especially state capitals.

While many are worried about the potential risk of civil unrest near one of the 50 state capitals, many businesses and local, state and federal officials are taking precautions. “This will be something that will ripple through our business community and our retail customers,” said Davis. “None of our retail customers want an obviously intrusive security presence that scares their customers. But they certainly realize that a security presence and a technological ability to be security smart is something everyone needs right now. “

In the future, he expects being smarter about security to be seen more as a cost of doing business. While large retailers could spend between hundreds of thousands of dollars and millions of dollars on security each year, they have been relatively low-key and secretive, according to Davis. “Over time, there will be a little more presence. And that presence has a deterrent effect, quite frankly. Is it a perfect deterrent? No. But is it dissuasive? Absoutely. Retailers across the country will be thinking about what they can do differently when it comes to safety and they will be implementing changes along the way, ”he said.

Retailers located near state capitals understand they are vulnerable in the event of civil unrest. This is certainly the case in Washington, where there are plenty of retail businesses in and around relatively accessible buildings across the country, Davis said. “It can have a side effect on their businesses and their customers. “

To this end, GardaWorld is adept at coordinating relationships between private security, law enforcement and now the military, to a much lesser extent. “The private links we establish between private security and law enforcement have never been as important as they are today. And I have spent over three decades in law enforcement. Sometimes there is a gap between private security and local law enforcement. This gap has certainly narrowed over the years. Now is the time to make sure there is no daylight between private security – companies like GardaWorld – and local law enforcement. Private security, when used appropriately, is a force multiplier along with public safety efforts, ”said Davis.

In addition to security measures for property, GardaWorld, which has a network in 45 countries, offers on-site security guards, which many customers have improved in recent months, mainly through unarmed and uniformed personnel. . “The presence is very preventive. A lot of people are doing it right now. What is unique about the fallout from the January 6 insurgency is that many of our clients and potential clients are interested in executive protection services because their management teams receive threats. This has increased dramatically since Jan. 6, ”Davis said. “There is a lot of anger and anxiety there. People get emails and other nasty messages on social media. This has exploded lately and much of it is protected by the First Amendment. It is certainly inappropriate, mean and despicable. But most of the perceived threats people receive do not constitute criminal behavior. It’s always something that gets people on edge about their own personal safety.

On another front, last summer GardaWorld acquired WorldAware, a US security risk management company. Together with his own company Crisis24, they will advise 25 percent of Fortune 500 companies, protect more than 32 million people a year, and respond to 35 percent of insured kidnappings globally for ransom and extortion cases. With WorldAware and Crisis24, Garda is in a better position to provide real-time intelligence to its customers, such as reviewing cybersecurity issues or suspicious activity, Davis said.

Although asset protection is a priority for many businesses, more emphasis needs to be placed on preventative measures such as first aid skills, shelter-in-place guidelines, fire extinguishing equipment and alternative transportation plans for employees in the event of public transportation closure. low, Davis said. More and more, companies are interested in learning more about simple bleeding control measures they can teach employees, as well as basic first aid and CPR, he said.

Noting that January 6 was an expected event since the rally was scheduled in downtown DC, Davis said there was a lot of information in the intelligence community and people were aware of it. “It’s not a matter of awareness. We didn’t have to guess the date. We didn’t have to guess the location. We knew it was going to have an impact on the US Capitol. Much of the Jan. 6 exam will include, “What did filling in the blanks do with this intelligence?” To fill in could be the United States Capitol Police, Capitol Hill lawmakers, the National Guard, surrounding law enforcement, the White House. There is a lot of information available on January 6th.

While onboarding is often determined by individual companies, many have chosen to do so before the presidential election. Some prefer not to because they have to stay open for the sake of their business, Davis said. In these cases, they are advised to do so safely.

With around 65 customers in DC, some traders and other retailers, GardaWorld has seen increased demand for security. “There is a lot of anxiety right now. The main concerns are civil unrest, riots, destruction and injuries. People have a lot of anxiety about their personal well-being and the well-being of their business, especially retail customers. We have a lot of retail customers along the Georgetown corridor, ”he said.

Retailers have been worried for months, including in the run-up to the November 3 presidential election, as many people expected civil unrest, especially in the nation’s capital, he said. To offer preparation advice, GardaWorld offered webinars to large retail chains, smaller ones, and retail operations or family restaurants. First, participants were asked to consider the technology they have available to capture suspicious behavior. They were asked if the cameras were up to date, positioned in the right direction, and if they had a point of contact at the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department, or their local police department.

Although many customers have cameras, they are often unsure of what to do with suspicious activity that arises if the behavior is not automatically considered a crime, such as surveillance or someone taking pictures. “Often these protests and demonstrations are not spontaneous. They are organized. Sometimes there are signs of it – people are gathering or taking pictures. There might be vehicles parked in a way that is not the norm.

Prior to November 3, the January 6 protests, and now January 20, GardaWorld customers were advised to ensure cameras are in good working order and to ensure that there is a point of contact with local law enforcement agencies to be able to share any relevant video. Additionally, all businesses with outdoor items that could be used to start a fire, such as small tables, chairs, and garbage cans, should be phased out.

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