Six Steps to Designing a Realistic and Reliable Security System
Something frightening happened at the business next to you the other day. A person came to the front desk and was yelling and demanding things. Acting crazy. The police had to be called. But it got all your employees spooked so you went out and bought and installed some video cameras. Are you safe now? I wish I could say that you are but you aren’t. Video cameras, alarm systems, or even security guards are only as good as the design you have implemented. The safest system you can have is one that takes into consideration a number of factors. Just adding cameras all by themselves will not keep you safe. A properly designed security system consists of multiple layers or barriers each operating independently but complementing each other. These layers are not necessarily all physical. They may also be procedural. Sound challenging? Actually, it’s not as challenging as you might think. Let’s talk about what a good security system consists of.
A properly designed security system starts with 3 things: a threat assessment, a vulnerability assessment, and a risk analysis. If these 3 things aren’t taken into consideration you are only guessing what type of protection you need. Without this you might be led into purchasing security equipment and services that are not efficient. You can spend a lot of money for something that won’t work.
At this point I would like to state that no security system is 100% impenetrable. However, a properly designed system will do one thing for sure: It will delay an adversary. You, at least, want this. Delays make it possible for law enforcement or a security team to respond and neutralize the threat.
Once you have this analysis complete the system is defined by 3 areas:
- Preemptive prevention
- Physical prevention
ABI likes to focus on prevention first. Only using a reactionary system to a situation already in progress might not have a good outcome because it takes time for police to get there. Preventing something from happening is the first thing we need to look at.
What is Preemptive Prevention?
Preemptive prevention is defined as stopping a potential aggressor before he/she actually attempts an attack. Here’s how we do this: we identify who the shooter is before they do anything. Then we intervene. Homeland Security and the FBI do this on a national and international level. We need to do this on our local level, too.
A lot of people think active shooters just snap and start shooting. They don’t. They plan their attacks well in advance. Fortunately, this tendency gives us time to figure out who they are and what they might be planning.
While there is no accurate demographic profile of a shooter, FBI statistics note some warning signs and recognizable actions taken by shooters prior to an attack. Here are some warning signs, in order of frequency from top to bottom. The average active shooter has at least three of these stressors.
- Poor mental health
- Financial strain
- Job difficulties
- Conflicts with friends and other people
- Marital problems
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Overwhelmed by care giving responsibilities
- Conflict at school
- Physical injury
- Conflict with parents
- Conflict with family members
- Sexual stress/frustration
- Run-ins with law enforcement
- Civil problems e.g. involvement in a lawsuit
- Death of friend or relative
Now here are some things that you might notice them doing before they attack. These are listed in order of frequency from top to bottom.
- Displaying mental health problems
- Displaying interpersonal problems
- Leakage (revealing thoughts or plans beforehand)
- Poor quality of thinking or communication
- Poor work performance
- Poor school performance
- Verbal or actual threats or confrontations
- Displaying unusual anger
- Physical aggression
- Unusual risk-taking
- Firearm behavior
- Violent video game usage
- Weight gain and over-eating
- Drug abuse
- Poor impulse control
- Alcohol abuse
- Poor physical health
- Idolizing criminals
- Unusual sexual behavior
- Poor quality sleep
- Poor hygiene/appearance
Many people exhibit some of these concerning behaviors and stressors but are not necessarily potential aggressor. Yet when these things are observed they should not be ignored. We need to keep an eye on a person exhibiting these behaviors and we need to look into what might be going on.
The key is education. Employers, employees, and the public all need to know these signs and actions. When they are observed they should be reported to law enforcement, employers, or administrators. The reporting system should be made easy for the reporting party to report suspicious behavior without fear of reprisal. There should also be a system in place for dealing with the person under suspicion. Dealing with the suspicious person might require counseling, further investigation, or arrest depending on the severity of their actions.
Physical prevention is achieved by having a system in place that can stop or minimize the damage if an active shooter attempts an attack. Physical prevention may be comprised of physical barriers such as fences, warning systems such as video surveillance and alarm systems, security guards, and policies and procedures. The implementation of physical prevention varies greatly depending upon the type of location being protected, the potential severity of risk, and the cost.
A very important part of physical security is maintenance of the system by the facilities management. It is wise to have a security team who is responsible for all aspects of security including maintenance of barriers, planning, investigations, policies and procedures, training, and incident response. Without dedicated security personnel weaknesses in security will often be overlooked.
- Three things need to be evaluated: threat and vulnerability assessment, and risk analysis.
- Have a system comprised of preemptive prevention, physical prevention and effective response.
- Know the warning signs and recognizable threat behavior (actions).
We here at ABI are here to help. Give us a call today for a free consultation. 559-395-6000