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Civil Unrest: How to Prepare for Uncertain Times

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From the Baltimore riots of 2015 to the political protests that continue today, such disturbances are emerging as “normal” threats with which American businesses must contend. In Sunstates Security’s home state of North Carolina, demonstrations related to police shootings and women’s rights have disrupted commercial operations, requiring additional security coverage.

Part of the reason for this unfortunate trend comes from increased polarization. Data from respected organizations like the Pew Research Center shows that the ideological center is shrinking, while those occupying the right and the left are growing farther apart.

Social media has made this volatile situation even more dangerous by making it easy to coordinate pop-up protests. Although relatively small, these gatherings form quickly and drive away customers, so even peaceful demonstrations have a negative effect on local businesses.

Crimes of Opportunity

Beyond the obvious disruption caused by these events, businesses in the surrounding area also need to guard against crimes of opportunity. Statistics show that minor crimes—such as break-ins of vehicles and buildings—spike during public disorder as opportunists take advantage of the diversion.

During President Glenn Burrell’s days with Scotland Yard, he dealt with hundreds of public order events, including policing picket lines. Video cameras proved effective as deterrents because they removed anonymity from the situation; people didn’t want to be identified. To maximize their deterrent value, he recommends making the cameras as conspicuous as possible, while protecting the equipment against tampering. Facilities should post prominent signs announcing the use of recorded video surveillance.

Similarly, businesses need to do more than keep an eye on a civil disturbance. They also need to look for, and shore up, any potential weaknesses that might be exploited while the main event holds the spotlight.

Steps to Consider

Effective protection against these threats starts with awareness, recognizing the potential for such events and evaluating the specific danger to an organization.

Threat assessment. Security teams should analyze the likelihood of a civil disturbance at or near their operations. Some threats are external, such as physical proximity to a courthouse or other government structure, or to public gathering space. Internal threats may arise from negative events, like layoffs, or ideological differences. A threat assessment should include all these factors and analyze both physical and operational vulnerabilities.

Early warning. In addition to maintaining relationships with local law enforcement, companies may consider commercial solutions to monitor social media chatter. Such programs can be customized with keywords and dates to help alert organizations to protests during the planning stage.

Employee education. Enlist personnel in the security effort through training programs. Teach them to recognize warning signs and to communicate this information along an established chain of command. For additional support, a skilled security partner will likely already have courses to teach officers crowd management and nonviolent conflict resolution, which can be adapted for non-security employees.

Additional resources. For known events that could trigger a disturbance—such as a potentially unpopular court verdict—organizations at risk should speak with their security provider about backup personnel, if needed. A larger firm should have additional staff available. Some firms also offer trained special-response teams that can travel where needed for emergencies. Such efforts should address not only threats related to the primary demonstration, but also crimes of opportunity.

For information on how Sunstates Security can help your organization prepare for social disturbances, please call us at 866-710-2019 or email us.

Written by Sunstates Security

March 21st, 2017 at 6:47 pm

THE NEW PIRATES: DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE A PLAN?

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Globally, piracy and hostage-taking have been on the upswing for several years. Al-Qaeda and its splinter groups, such as the East African terrorist organization  known as Al-Shabaab, have lost most of their primary sources of funding, as a result of U.S. and European anti-money-laundering efforts.  Forced to look elsewhere for easy sources of cash, they have turned to piracy, kidnapping and ransom. Currently, at any given time, a global average of 500 individuals are held in captivity for ranson.

The new kidnapping threat
Foreign nationals, employees of international businesses, and passengers and crew on ships at sea are all vulnerable to the risk of being victimized by these criminals. With an average of more than 100 kidnappings per month in Somali waters alone, and a typical settlement in shipping piracy of $3-4M, terrorist organizations have found their new cash cow. The average ransom demand for individuals is $1.15M, and the average settlement is $355,000 per person.

The kidnapping industry has an index of the ransom worth of any given person. The international standard starts at $600,000, regardless of the person’s wealth or social status. If the kidnappers know the identity of their captive, however, the initial figure generally starts much higher.

This new reality poses a frightening challenge for companies conducting international business, and can seem like a daunting obstacle. Many are reluctant to travel at all. Consulting with an expert familiar with this new criminal reality has become crucial. Sunstates Security President Glenn Burrell has extensive training in terrorism studies and the dynamics of hostage taking. His knowledge and connections in government and law enforcement can be a critical component in a company’s ability to evaluate risks, and develop an action plan should an employee fall prey to kidnapping.

An ounce of prevention
Sunstates and its partners can train your company to avoid some commonly overlooked risks and prime target scenarios. “Ninety percent of abductions occur at the point of arrival or departure from home or work,” he explained. “They’re the two primary vulnerabilities.”

Additionally, Burrell advises companies about the repercussions of these crimes. Even when victims are released and unharmed – 94% of kidnap victims survive their experiences, 70% after ransom is paid — victims often suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic-stress disorder, which directly affects both their personal and professional lives. This PTSD spills over to the victim’s colleagues and their family members, as well.

These tips can help global companies reduce the abduction risk of their workforce:

  • Employees should dress as locals and avoid showing wealth; for instance, driving an older car can help maintain a low profile.
  • Educate employees on local areas where they should and should not travel. Many abductees are mid- or low-level employees, not CEOs. These employees don’t realize how valuable they are. They may wander into places where they shouldn’t be.
  • Track employees with GPS chips installed on vehicles, cell phones and even clothing.

Call Sunstates Security today to learn how to protect your employees. Drawing on our international network, we can help you evaluate your current practices and provide an action plan for hostage contingencies.

Contact Sunstates Security

866-710-2019

www.SunstatesSecurity.com 

RECENT CLIENT TESTIMONIAL-SUNSTATES SECURITY TEAM IS TERRIFIC TO WORK WITH

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April 28, 2011
“I just wanted to reach out and say “Thank You”. The security team here is terrific to work with and it has made my job easier. You have no idea what it’s like to not have to worry that your clients and tenants are getting poor customer service. Thanks again for all your help and efforts in the transition.”

See more Sunstates Security client testimonials on our website.

Written by Sunstates Security

April 28th, 2011 at 8:00 pm