Sunstates Blog

A Proactive Security Partner

How to get the most from your security partnership

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How to get the most from your security partnership

In many organizations, managers aspire to certain perks. The corner office. The big desk. The fancy furnishings. Power lunches and high-level meetings where important decisions are made.

Sunstates Security managers are a different breed.

They practice project-based management, a simple idea that yields better service for clients. With project-based management, Sunstates operates more efficiently, provides competitive pricing, and delivers more hands-on service to clients.

Simply put, Sunstates security officers and managers go above and beyond every day. The results: Our client retention rate is 95%, significantly above the industry average.

With project-based management, managers spend more time out in the field, visiting client sites and talking to security officers and clients, than they do in their own offices. This has a number of advantages for clients and Sunstates:

  • It develops closer relationships between managers and security officers, as well as between managers and clients. Managers can listen to concerns, solicit suggestions for improvement, and make decisions on the spot.
  • It gives security officers and clients the opportunity to discuss concerns, issues, and suggestions that might not make it into a formal report, but are important enough to address.
  • It ensures that our employees follow the security plan that is custom-tailored to each client and site.
  • It provides opportunities to improve those plans, as well as other security policies and procedures, immediately on-site.

Those site visits and conversations can be fruitful. When a client mentioned that no one routinely checked fire extinguishers to make sure they were operational and up to date, we added that to our operations manual. Now, every fire extinguisher has a bar code and is checked regularly. When a client casually mentioned to a visiting manager that a door was defective (and replacement was delayed), we added an hourly check of that door to the duties of every patrolling security officer.

These minor items might have never been mentioned in a formal report. But they help make a facility and employees more safe and secure.

Best Practices in Working with Sunstates

When a Sunstates manager visits a client site, here’s how to take advantage of that visit:

  • Offer or brainstorm ideas for improvement to processes or services, no matter how small. We are always willing to learn new or refined processes.
  • Share ideas or ask questions. Ongoing communication is critical.
  • Point out items or situations, even temporary ones, that can increase safety and security.
  • Don’t feel reluctant to bring up any concern or issue; that’s why our managers are on-site.

Sunstates managers are trained to ask for suggestions and to recognize good ideas. Please take advantage of this opportunity to upgrade your security program continually.

For more information on how Sunstates Security manages on-site security, or for an evaluation of your existing security, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

December 5th, 2019 at 2:54 pm

Smart Cameras, Smarter People

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Smart Cameras, Smarter People

New technology, especially security cameras with analytics features, are adding new capabilities and providing more reactive and proactive options. Today’s systems have capabilities previously seen only in the movies: pattern-based analytics, self-learning and AI (artificial intelligence) that can find security threats and suspicious patterns incredibly quickly and accurately. The new technology won’t replace security officers, but it will enable them to provide even greater security.

 

 

Spotting Potential Security Issues

Scenario 1: Looking Back for Clues

For example, you know a white van with green stripes was involved in an incident, or is suspected in an incident, on a corporate campus with 200 security cameras. Analytics software and a skilled security officer can find every instance that van was recorded by a security camera over the past few hours, days or weeks, typically in less than an hour. The security officer can build a timeline of the vehicle’s movements on the campus, as well as identify when anyone entered or left the vehicle.

Scenario 2: Looking Forward Proactively

Today’s cameras and software can also reverse-engineer that scenario. The security officer can use the software and camera system to be on the lookout for a white van with green stripes, and send an alert as soon as a vehicle matching that description is spotted.

If, say, a recently terminated employee is deemed a potential threat, and the security officer knows what type of vehicle that person is driving, the system can alert security as soon as that person drives onto the corporate campus.

Building and Managing a Complete System

Most importantly, software can now bridge different systems and different cameras from multiple manufacturers to build a complete, seamless system. Even older cameras can have the same capabilities as the latest generation, albeit possibly with lower resolution. Even if the images aren’t as sharp and clear, those cameras can still be an integral part of an early warning system, saving the costs of replacing equipment.

Cameras and Access Control

With facial recognition technology, the future won’t rely on keys, badges or card swipes, but on cameras and software that “recognize” employees and flag intruders and anyone not known by the system. This technology will be both more secure—an intruder could steal an employee’s badge or key card, but not an employee’s face—and more cost-effective.

The Human Element

Security cameras, software and other technology won’t replace security personnel. Instead, security officers will be more highly skilled in using that technology to provide higher levels of both reactive and proactive security.

For information on how Sunstates Security can combine technology with skilled personnel for a higher level of security, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

September 10th, 2019 at 6:31 pm

Security by Design: Best Practices in Secure Environments

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Security by Design: Best Practices in Secure Environments

Most commercial buildings begin with an architect and a designer. Outside, a landscaper or landscape architect will usually be tapped to provide the esthetic surroundings.

Open floorplans. Glass walls. Lots of windows. Outside, beautiful plantings.

These features may be pleasing to the eye. But they also can significantly compromise safety. Security would be greatly enhanced by including a security expert on the initial design team.

 

The Four Aspects of Designing for Safety

There are four key elements to corporate security:

  • Access control, especially in shared spaces
  • Landscape design that emphasizes security
  • Interior design that mitigates potential threats
  • Security-minded policies and procedures

Element 1: Access Control

Access control can be challenging when a building or campus is shared by different organizations. But there are several best practices that can mitigate the potential for security issues:

  • Individual access control for each office or tenant
  • A centralized communication system, such as a PA, to warn all occupants of potential or actual threats
  • Building-wide access control, so only those who belong in the building can enter
  • Security systems or personnel that can flag unusual activity

Consider, for example, the auto mechanic who was terminated at a West Coast auto dealership after weeks of poor performance, threats to co-workers, and other red flags. He went to his vehicle, retrieved a gun and returned, killing two former colleagues before committing suicide. Incidents such as this highlight what many businesses are now following as a best practice:

  • Have employees park in a secure area with controlled access
  • Restrict employees from visiting their vehicles during the workday or monitor employees who do so

Element 2: Exterior Design

Parking areas, pathways and landscaping should be designed with two goals in mind: perimeter security and elimination of hiding places.

Perimeter security means establishing layers of security, typically with multiple checkpoints and many opportunities to spot potential security issues. Ideally, this strategy positions the initial access control so that a would-be intruder would be stopped before being able to enter or penetrate a facility or campus.

For landscaping, the key is to eliminate not only hiding places for intruders attempting to enter the building, but also places where someone could attack or otherwise harm employees and visitors heading towards or away from the building.

Element 3: Interior Design

The same glass walls and bullpen-type seating areas that give a space a light and airy ambience have a serious drawback. In the event of an active shooter or other incident, employees have nowhere to hide. Walls, offices and secure doors make it possible to hide from an intruder.

Employees have three options when confronted by an active shooter: run, hide or fight. Interiors should be designed to maximize all three of those options. In addition, entrances should have a holding area that can be secured to prevent an intruder from entering the inner offices.

Element 4: Policies and Procedures

None of these steps, of course, will effectively mitigate potential security threats without employee training in the proper policies and procedures to spot and react to security issues.

For organizations without an internal security chief, a security consultant that offers employee training can be an invaluable resource. Security training should be part of every new employee’s orientation, and refresher training should be mandatory and regularly scheduled.

For information on how Sunstates Security can use technology and personnel to provide greater security, or for an evaluation of your existing security systems and strategies, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

 

Written by Sunstates Security

September 4th, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Commercial Property Class A Safety

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Think of the swanky downtown offices or high-rise apartments in your surrounding area. Chances are they’re what is known as a Class A property. Class A properties are generally newer
properties, well-located in the market and typically professionally managed. You may admire their size and architecture, but do you ever stop to think about the security that happens behind the scenes? It takes a special kind of security professional to perform the job well. They must interact well with tenants, cover a large area, and perform various duties. It’s important to be aware of common safety concerns and to pick the right security provider. After all, security professionals are a reflection of both their employer and the client.

Sunstates Security understands how important it is to acknowledge your organization’s culture and identify what is important in servicing your multiple levels of clientele: whether it’s your employees, visitors, or surrounding community. Security professionals working in these properties need to be able to balance a dual role. One component of their role is to serve as a public ambassador and provide the best experience for all tenants, contractors, and visitors. Security professionals must fulfill this side of the job while simultaneously ensuring that all property safety protocols are enforced.

Security professionals must cater to the public ambassador portion of the role in a multitude of ways. They are often responsible for greeting tenants (employees of the building, residents, etc.). They provide directions to guests, answer phone calls at reception, and more. Often, the mere physical presence of an officer while they perform their public ambassador duties can deter security threats.

The other component of a security professionals’ job in a Class A property is to monitor for physical security issues like “piggybacking” or “tailgating”, and maintenance issues. Piggybacking is when an individual enters the building directly behind someone who is authorized to be there, while they themselves are not. This could happen when someone swipes their access key to enter the building and another person follows through directly after without having their own key. Security professionals often are tasked with performing patrols around the building and on each floor to monitor for maintenance issues like water leaks and lighting outages. At Sunstates, our officers utilize electronic reporting tools that allow them to report issues like these as soon as they encounter them.

Given the duality of the role, it’s important you have security professionals who are recruited and trained to the highest standard. Sunstates has extensive experience hiring security professionals who can perform all aspects of this unique role. Contact us to learn more about our security services in Class A properties.

Written by Sunstates Security

August 20th, 2019 at 4:46 pm

Compassionate Leadership

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Image for Compassionate Leadership PostAt Sunstates Security, we strive to embody our mission and vision statements day in and day out. We make every effort to hire individuals who will reflect those statements in the work they do. We have a mantra: ”Service First”. Everyone from the President & CEO of the company to the Operations Managers believe that we are here first and foremost to serve our officers protecting client facilities. Operations Manager Ralph Nemo recently demonstrated this mindset, and we couldn’t be more proud.

An employee relatively new to the Sunstates team found herself in a dire situation – facing homelessness. She shared this information with her Operations Manager, Ralph during a routine check-in meeting. Ralph not only listened, he cared, and he acted. He, along with the site supervisor, assisted her in locating and securing affordable housing. The officer shared the following about her experience:

“I was able to find an apartment with his assistance and avoided a desperate situation. It’s easy to sit behind a desk and bark orders at people. It’s not so easy being compassionate and showing empathy when someone is going through a rough time. I’m thankful for his help and follow-up with me. This company is simply the best, period!”

When recognized for his compassionate leadership, Ralph humbly said, “Although appreciated, I never asked for nor expected any recognition for assisting her in this dire situation. Helping your neighbor is something that we all should strive to do if we’re in the position to do so. I would’ve done this for anyone. Our folks are more than just employees and are our greatest asset.”

We agree! With our customized structure of smaller and manageable portfolios, our Operations Managers have the opportunity to be genuinely involved in their people’s success. Ralph emulates our mantra of Service First and we are ecstatic to have recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary with the Sunstates family (pictured above).

Part of our mission statement is this: “Our goal is to change the way clients think about safety and security by going ‘above and beyond’ every day, basing all decisions on honesty, integrity, and trust”.

  • Honesty towards our clients, employees, vendors and partners
  • Integrity to honor our commitments and always do what we say
  • Trust, ensuring that our clients and employees can count on us

We are thankful to have exceptional people like Ralph on the Sunstates team who truly go above and beyond.

Written by Sunstates Security

June 20th, 2019 at 9:16 pm

Active Shooter Safety

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On April 30, 2019 two students at UNC Charlotte were fatally shot and four were injured when a 22-year-old opened fire on campus. Only a week later on May 7, 2019, a shooting occurred at a Colorado school resulting in one death and eight injuries. These tragedies are the most recent examples of the escalating trend of active shooter scenarios taking place across the country. Sunstates Security offers our heartfelt thoughts and sympathies to all those affected by the past week’s events, as well as the victims of all gun-related violence. We take active shooter preparedness very seriously and encourage everyone to have an emergency plan in place. Terry Hairston, CEO of Defend and Protect, Inc. recently presented a training session to Sunstates management staff enforcing the message that “You never know what you prevent, you only know what you don’t”. Let this be a reminder to have plans in place and know the best ways to respond if the situation arises. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll focus on three things: prevention, preparation, and best courses of action.

Prevention of Workplace Violence

Active shooter scenarios can occur anywhere, but often occur in the workplace. Key ways to help prevent workplace violence include fostering a respectful work environment and knowing the warning signs of someone who might be considering violence. Common signs include:

  • Increased use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs
  • Unexplained increase in absenteeism
  • Resistance and overreaction to changes in policies and procedures
  • Noticeably unstable, emotional responses
  • Comments about “putting things in order” or “getting even”
  • Increase in interest and comments about firearms, other weapons and violent crimes

The most important step in prevention is sharing information with management and/or law enforcement if you suspect anything suspicious about co-workers or unfamiliar visitors in your workplace.

Preparation

It is vital to have an emergency action plan in place and to practice the plan. People often think that an active shooter scenario will never happen to them. Unfortunately, violence doesn’t make exceptions for any person or setting, so it is critical to always maintain a high level of situational awareness. Create your action plan and focus on these components:

  • Preferred method for reporting fires and other emergencies                                                                                                        Image 1 for Active Shooter Safety Post
  • Evacuation policy and procedure
  • Escape procedure and route assignments (floor plans and safe areas) NOTE: Always identify two exits in any facility or venue as soon as you enter
  • Local area hospital information
  • Emergency notification system that alerts employees, law enforcement, and hospitals

Action

An active shooter is an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill in a confined and populated area. In most cases, they are using firearm(s) and they have no pattern or method to the selection of their victims. If you are subject to an active shooter scenario, it is imperative that you assess the situation and decide whether to run, hide, or fight.

  • This is the most desirable option and is where your escape route and plan come in to play. Leave your belongings, keep hands visible to law enforcement, and follow instructions of police officers if any are present. Call 9-1-1 when safe.
  • If you cannot escape the environment, immediately get out of the shooter’s view. Close and lock doors, turn out lights, and put barriers between yourself and the shooter (desk, barricade, etc.). Silence your phone and remain quiet. If you can safely call 9-1-1, provide them with the location of the shooter, the number of shooters and a physical description, the number and type of weapons, and number of potential victims. Do not open the door or come out of hiding until law enforcement identify themselves and instruct you to do so.
  • Do this as a last resort if your life is in imminent danger. Act as aggressively as possible by throwing items, yelling, and improvising weapons. Most importantly, commit to your actions and be prepared to fight for your life.

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Sunstates Security encourages everyone to take action against becoming a victim. Prevent, prepare, and act. Again, our thoughts and sympathies go out to all affected by gun violence. For more information on active shooter training and Sunstates Security, please visit SunstatesSecurity.com.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 23rd, 2019 at 7:16 pm

Ready, Aim, Fire (Risk Mitigation During Terminations)

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Called into a termination meeting, an Illinois man pulled out a handgun, fatally shot five co-workers and wounded five police officers. In Orlando, a fired employee returned later and fatally shot five employees before killing himself. A Los Angeles man, fired from his job at an auto parts store, shot and killed six co-workers before dying in a gun battle with police.

Terminations are almost always emotional. The key is to keep them from turning deadly.

Risk mitigation prepares for the “what-ifs.” What if the employee argues and threatens? What if the employee turns violent? What if the employee has a weapon?

Most human resources professionals are caring individuals. They’re not thinking about safety and security, but about treating the terminated employee humanely while following company policies and government regulations. But safety and security should always be a prime consideration when terminating an employee.

Best Practices During Termination

  • Place an experienced manager in charge of the termination, and brief everyone involved beforehand about the process.
  • Always have a witness to the event. In an ideal situation, assign two people—at least one of the same gender as the employee—to help defuse any potential issues. The best-case scenario also includes video surveillance in real time.
  • Position HR personnel so they always have an accessible escape route; they should never have their backs to the wall or otherwise be in a position where they can be cornered or blocked from leaving.
  • Post security personnel nearby, and provide HR employees with a way to quickly call for help, such as a code word or another discreet communication method.
  • Escort terminated employees off the premises immediately, preferably not back to their desks or work stations. Instead, HR personnel should box the employee’s personal belongings.
  • Use a third-party carrier to return equipment, so the terminated employee has no legitimate need to come back to the workplace.

HR personnel should be briefed on how to calm upset individuals. One common, and effective, technique positions the termination package as a carrot by making it contingent on employee compliance with the company process.

Employees should also be trained to look for red flags, even before considering termination. If any exist, security personnel should be placed on alert for an extended period. Terminated employees have returned to their former workplaces with a weapon weeks, months or even years later. Security personnel should receive as much intelligence regarding the terminated employee as possible, including a recent photograph, what vehicle(s) he/she drives, and what to do if the individual is seen in the area.

Terminating employees is a fact of life. Mitigating the risks when that becomes necessary protects everyone.

For information on how Sunstates Security can support your human resources department and other employees before, during and after terminations, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 14th, 2019 at 3:43 pm

Replacing Security Personnel with Technology? Not So Fast

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Boots on the ground. Eyes in the sky.

As cameras, access controls and other security technology become more and more sophisticated, some companies wonder whether technology can replace personnel.

“We’ll upgrade our cameras, add a few to make sure the entire building is covered, then cut back on security personnel,” the thinking goes. “The payroll savings will pay for the additional technology in two years.”

But technology has its limits, and security vs. cost savings isn’t always a good trade-off.

What Technology Does Well

Cameras and security systems are getting smarter and more analytical. Backed by a command center with highly trained, skilled personnel (often former military), some aspects of security can now be accomplished with fewer people.

Well-trained experts can analyze camera feeds and other information and produce results quickly. Review the last 72 hours of parking lot activity to spot a suspicious vehicle? Note patterns that suggest employee theft or supply chain disruptions? Those are things that technology, backed by experts, does well in ways that human beings alone cannot. (Would several security officers, each working a different shift, be likely to collaborate and deduce that the same red Chevrolet has circled the parking lot several times but never parked? Not likely.)

The Downsides of Technology

Cameras, recorders and other security technology alone won’t spot suspicious patterns or activity. That analysis requires human intervention by highly skilled professionals. Former military personnel are good choices because they tend to have both the technical skills and the discipline. But training, especially training specific to a certain site or campus, takes time, and a good command center is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.

There are two things that technology alone doesn’t do as well as security personnel.

  • Emergency response. Response time is critical, and the greater the threat or emergency, the more important that becomes. If the closest personnel are several buildings away on a large campus, critical minutes will be lost.
  • Public relations. Employees, clients and visitors feel safer and more reassured when they see professional security personnel. Reduce the number of officers, and employees often feel less safe. For visitors, first impressions are critical: polite, service-oriented security officers make an important statement about your facility.

Security technology can extend and enhance the security of any facility, whether it’s as simple as electronic locks that require key cards or a sophisticated network of cameras, motion detectors and a command center.

But technology alone, or security personnel alone, can’t provide as much protection and threat mitigation as the two together.

About Sunstates Security Command Centers

Sunstates Security manages command centers for clients across the country, ranging from single-campus systems to global operations.  With thousands of hours of experience, Sunstates can provide an in-depth analysis of facilities and security operations to seamlessly integrate technology and personnel.

The following tips are often overlooked when establishing a command center:

  • Provide redundant hardware and systems (including power) to mitigate downtime from equipment failure
  • Location is critical; choose a central, secure site separate from regular operations.
  • Employ “clean sheet” technology designed around the organization’s unique needs, and avoid proprietary hardware and software for greater flexibility.
  • Staff centers with highly trained, competitively compensated personnel to manage data and identify potential hazards before they become incidents.

For information on how Sunstates Security can use technology and personnel to provide greater security, or for an evaluation of your existing security systems and strategies, please call 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

May 6th, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Safety in Faith-Based Organizations

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On March 16, 2019 dozens were killed in a New Zealand mosque terror attack. This served as an important reminder that whether it’s a church or religious educational institution, there is always a possibility of safety threats. Faith-based organizations pride themselves on being open and inclusive, so how do they draw a line when it comes to safety? Having proper security in place helps make that line a little less blurry and can deter and prevent threats.

Common Threats:

• Vandalism
• Burglary/Break-Ins
• Violence
• Armed Intruders

Churches and religious institutions should be able to focus on their mission: providing safe places for people to gather, worship, and learn. Sunstates Security helps our clients do just that by providing security professionals that are trained to identify potential hazards before they become incidents.

How We Can Help:
                                                                     
• Emergency Action Plans
• Vulnerability Assessments
• Education and Awareness Training
• Efficient Communication
• Patrol Services
• Concierge Services – a friendly face to provide information and assistance

Often, the mere physical presence of security personnel can deter threats. When that’s not enough, our security professionals will work with you to establish and implement practice response plans.

Unfortunately, security is not always a priority until something significant happens. Be proactive instead of reactive. Don’t let yourself be an easy target – utilize security and know the limits to your open-door policy.

For information on how Sunstates Security can support your security program, please call 866-710-2019 or email us at SunstatesInfo@SunstatesSecurity.com.

Written by Sunstates Security

April 24th, 2019 at 2:43 pm

How to Prepare for an Active Shooter Scenario

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The news, unfortunately, is filled with stories about sudden, unexpected shootings in the workplace and other public spaces. One minute, people are going about their daily routines. The next minute: panic and chaos.

At concerts, in offices, in houses of worship, in schools and on military bases, an active shooter is a possibility. More and more, clients are turning to Sunstates for training and threat mitigation strategies. In conjunction with industry experts, Sunstates can help clients and our officers protect themselves and be safer.

“We want our clients to be safe,” noted Sunstates President Glenn Burrell, CPP. “I’d like to think that we can help save lives. That’s our focus and why we’re happy to provide that as an added value.”

Proactive Strategies
The best way to mitigate threats is before they occur. Sunstates security experts can help clients develop policies and procedures designed to prevent/reduce potential threats, including:

• Access Control. Monitoring and controlling who can enter a facility, or specific areas within that facility, is the first step to mitigating active shooter threats.
• Eyes and Ears. All employees should be aware of who belongs and who doesn’t in a facility or area, as well as who is acting abnormally.
• Preparation. Employees need to understand what to do if an active shooter scenario occurs, and they should regularly prepare and practice.

Client Training
Depending upon the clients’ needs, Sunstates can offer different types of training.

General Education. Sunstates can provide a high-level general presentation on the basic principles of Active Shooter mitigation training. We’d be happy to schedule a lunchtime presentation to help your employees understand threats in the workplace and the community, as well as what to do if the unimaginable occurs.

Advanced Custom Training. For more extensive and facility-focused training, Sunstates partners with industry experts to provide more in-depth training, customized to a client’s facility, employees and situation.

That education often includes the following:

• See something, say something. Employees should have established procedures to voice security-related concerns to supervisors and management quickly and efficiently, with regular feedback to encourage the flow of intelligence.
• Understand the plan. Managers and employees will be trained on the security plan, being aware of their surroundings and other critical factors.
• Communication is key. Before an emergency occurs, companies and facilities should have a communications plan in place. This review will examine current plans and make recommendations where appropriate.
• Know the strategies. In an active shooter scenario, there are three options: run, hide and fight. People should know how to choose their best option.

In many active shooter situations, the immediate response is confusion and denial. Many people will ask, “What is going on?” or say, “This can’t be happening. That was a car backfiring, not gun shots.”

The key takeaway for our active shooter training is to make employees’ responses automatic. Instead of thinking about what is going on, or even doubting that it’s really happening, we want “muscle memory” to take over and help mitigate or minimize the threat.

The bottom line is we want our clients and our officers to be safe, and providing active shooter training and education is a key part of that.

The time to prepare for an active shooter is now, and we can help. Please contact Sunstates Security at 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

January 10th, 2019 at 8:24 pm

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