Industry Insights in Atlanta
October 27, 1955; Washington, D.C.: Fifty-two security professionals gathered for the first annual meeting of the newly founded American Society for Industrial Security. September 29, 2014; Atlanta, Georgia: More than 20,000 security professionals will meet to participate in the ASIS International 60th Annual Seminar and Exhibits at the Georgia World Congress Center.
Much has changed during the last six decades in the security industry, and ASIS International has changed with it, consistently providing security professionals with cutting-edge information, access to the latest solutions, and the framework for peer networking that is so valuable to business and career success. All of this will be on offer this anniversary year, with keynote addresses from former U.S. Secretary of State General Colin Powell (U.S. Army-ret.), former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., and U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Scott Moore.
There will be more than a half-dozen special preseminar programs, ASIS certification reviews, and the ASIS Foundation Golf Tournament taking place during the weekend before the seminar and exhibits officially opens. After the event begins, attendees can explore the massive exhibit hall, as well as enjoy the Annual President’s Reception at the Georgia Aquarium, the Welcome Reception, the Annual ASIS Foundation Night, and other peer-networking social events and luncheons.
Most impressive of all may be the dazzling choice of educational sessions open to attendees. There will be more than 250 sessions in 24 tracks catering to the needs of beginner, intermediate, and advanced learners. The two seminar sessions summarized below highlight the depth of knowledge that will be on display in Atlanta this autumn.
On Monday, September 29, James E. Lukaszewski, president of the Lukaszewski Group Division, Risdall Marketing Group, will present “Managing the Victim in a Crisis” from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Lukaszewski describes a crisis as a “people-stopping, show-stopping, product-stopping, reputation-redefining event.” The plans of most organizations focus on facilities response and business continuity. “These are important,” he says. “But what gets in the papers is not that the organization didn’t have a business continuity plan, it’s that it failed to respond to the issues that could stop people, animals, and living systems from becoming victims.”
Organizations must begin to recognize that “reporters don’t interview burning buildings, they interview the victims who were in the burning buildings. Neighbors, friends, relatives, and survivors aren’t really concerned about the physical facilities as much as they are about the people who are injured in these surroundings,” Lukaszewski states. Failing to recognize the power of these victims can ruin an organization’s reputation and end the careers of its leaders. “Victims are the ones who go to the media and who hire attorneys and who get the neighbors riled up,” he notes.
Lukaszewski says that no matter where a disaster or other crisis occurs, humans involved react similarly. Most people will, metaphorically, “get up off the ground, dust themselves off, figure out what to do next, and move on,” he says. “But there are a small number who, on their way up off the ground, make a choice to self-identify as victims.” It’s a psychological position that Lukaszewski calls “self-maintaining.” He says that these people “get to be victims as long as they care to be. It’s not up to healthcare authorities or physicians or insurance companies or organizations of any kind. These people are going through something that is uniquely theirs.”
It is when these victims feel they are being victimized again that the situation can explode. “The victim…decides that the world needs to know more about his or her circumstances,” he says. “They will pick up the phone and call their attorney, or call a TV station.”
Don’t do this. To prevent victims from reaching this point, organizations must understand the actions that cause revictimization. On the long list that Lukaszewski will present this fall are perceived or real abuse, accusations, belittling, blaming, bullying, deception, denigration, dismissiveness, humiliation, intimidation, minimizing, sarcasm, shaming, and embarrassment.
Unfortunately, he says, the first misstep that many crisis-hit organizations take is to try to define who is or is not a victim of the particular situation. By questioning their status, “the victims feel we are demeaning them, discrediting them, and dismissing them. We’re compounding the problem,” he explains. “What we say and how we behave are critical ingredients…. If we don’t acknowledge the victims’ status, they get more angry and frustrated and call more TV stations, or start support groups.”
While victims are driven by their emotions, the management of many organizations are often the opposite. “In fact,” he says, “many response plans are designed to be emotionless. The feeling is that if we stick to the facts and avoid getting emotional, things will resolve themselves faster. This is a really bad strategy. The people [an organization is] dealing with—or the people representing animals and living systems—are hugely emotional and this is where they get their power from. If you fail to respond to that emotionality, it just gets worse.”
Frustratingly, sometimes genuine, caring outreach to a victim also backfires. One example, says Lukaszewski, is when company representatives take a personal interest in a victim. This is often viewed by that victim as personal intrusion that could lead to betrayal. Another example is offering well-meant advice, which can be perceived as insulting by the victim, or as an attempt to control.
Lukaszewski says that for a time after the incident, victims suffer from an unstoppable inner monologue in which they question their own actions and try to blame themselves for what happened. They also—usually simultaneously—feel a compulsion to speak about their experience and to demand answers and information. “But when both your inner and outer voices are talking at the same time, you’re not getting information in,” he explains. “It’s a very frustrating circumstance, but it’s the nature of being a victim—they cannot hear for a while. And because they can’t hear the answers to their own questions, they get angrier and more and more irrational.”
Validation and visibility. Organizations need to give victims four fundamental things. First is validation from the people or entity that hurt them.
“They want someone to stand up and say ‘You were abused; you were harmed, hurt, damaged, and threatened. You’re not making this up. It really happened and you are suffering as a result,’” he explains. “If this does not happen—and it rarely does—victims will find someone to validate them. That’s why they go to the media and support groups. That’s why they go on the TV and radio because it gives them the second thing—visibility,” Lukaszewski states.
Lawsuits are filed for similar reasons. He says that if you ask a victim why he or she has taken the case to the court, that person will say because it’s to force “the people who did this to stand up and admit it and say they will do something about it.” What all too often happens, at this point, is that the victim is accused of wanting nothing but cold, hard cash by the defendant. But until the victim’s needs are met, “the pressure just keeps building and building. They will continue to seek the visibility to talk about their pain and suffering because, from their perspective, no one else is doing it.”
Vindication. Victims also need vindication. They need to know that their story and their efforts led to changes that will help others or prevent them from being harmed. Lukaszewski says that when the organization makes changes, such as issuing a warning, packaging a product differently, or changing how something mechanical operates, “they fix the problem and the company throws itself a party and pats itself on the back. And the only reason they have done it is because of highly emotional reaction from victims. My advice is always to let the victims take the credit. It helps them work through the issues they are experiencing.”
Apologies. The final thing that victims must have is an apology. Lukaszewski defines saying sorry as “the atomic energy of empathy. When apologies happen, people settle down. It takes the wind out of everything. And the one thing victims can hear is an apology.”
He says that in the past apologies were seldom issued because of fears of increased liability, but the connection between apologies and liability is being severed in many U.S. states. “Thirty- three states now say the expression of regret or an apology at the scene is not considerable when calculating damages in car accidents,” he explains. “Nineteen states have laws that forbid the expression of sorrow or anything that could be taken as an apology from being considered in malpractice cases of healthcare workers. The truth is that apologies reduce litigation. People are satisfied when someone says ‘I did this; I’m sorry; here’s what I’ve learned from it; here’s how we’re going to prevent it from happening again. I will be happy to work with you to resolve the issue you’re facing and I ask you to forgive me.’”
Lukaszewski will provide more examples and material to attendees of his ASIS seminar session in September.
Stopping the Shooter
The Newtown, Connecticut, school shootings of December 2012 conclusively proved the need for enhanced school security. In the aftermath, North Carolina’s Duplin County School District reached out to Patrick Fiel, Sr., founder of PVF Security Consulting LLC. Fiel, a former executive director of school security for District of Columbia Public Schools, designed a pilot program at one of the county’s elementary schools.
Fiel and Duplin County School Board Chair Chuck Farrior will discuss the results of their partnership on Tuesday, September 30, from 1:45 to 3 p.m., in a session titled “In Search of a Repeatable and Affordable School Security Model.”
After Sandy Hook, Fiel says, “I got calls from all over the country.” Many asked about installing bulletproof glass. “That glass is very expensive and schools are on budgets. We need to find other ways,” he says. Other callers said they needed CCTV, access control, or other pricey solutions. Fiel tried to convince them that what they really needed was a complete security assessment so that the solutions they would put in place would not be mere Band-Aids.
Assessment. Fiel was first contacted by an officer from the Duplin County Sheriff’s Department. He conducted security risk assessments at all of the county’s 16 schools. Assessments began within a 25-mile radius of each building. “Anything that happens in the community around the school will impact it.”
From the surrounding area, the next assessment zone was the school campus, then the building’s exterior, and finally, the interior. “I showed them a lot of areas that were vulnerable,” Fiel recalls.
He also conducted security assessments at night. “Things change at night. Especially lighting,” he notes.
At the end of the assessments, Friel presented the district with a 100-page report. The school board was concerned with some of the findings, such as Friel’s ability to enter some schools at night because doors were not locked or windows were left open, as well as low lighting levels or landscaping that hindered witness potential or offered hiding places. Ultimately, he was asked to create a plan that could be repeated across Duplin County.
“With the help of my industry partners, we put a plan together and ran a pilot program, which is still in place today,” he says. “We feel, and others feel, that this is something repeatable. It’s affordable; it’s reasonable. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an old school, or what kind of design the building has, or the size—we constructed this model so that can be implemented in urban, suburban, or rural districts.”
Getting in. The program’s first step is the dedication of a main door for all visitor entries. Signage on campus approaching the building should direct visitors to this door as the single permissible entry point.
Any glass comprising the door, or surrounding it, is covered by a frame stretched over with a special mesh screen that appears tinted from the outside but not from the inside. Called Security Screen and made by Harmony Security Products of Emigsville, Pennsylvania, it does not deflect bullets, but the screen will not shred or tear to create a larger hole. This prevents the aggressor from ripping it to step through or to reach in to unlock the door. Fiel says that the screen offers a strong deterrent while allowing those inside extra time to call police.
At the main door, a video intercom system allows administrators to view the person and to buzz them inside.
All other ingress doors must be locked and ideally be access controlled. If a school does not have an access control system, then any door left open for any period of time must be physically monitored. Teachers who take children outside during the day should use access control cards to unlock an ingress door, allowing students to reenter after recess or physical education, for example.
Inside. After using the video intercom to gain entry from an administrator, visitors enter a vestibule or enclosed hall that leads only to the school office. Visitors must then produce a valid ID that is checked through a visitor management system with a watch-list database. Panic buttons are also located in the office to summon police or first responders if the visitor becomes threatening.
The administrator creates a visitor badge using a badging system. The now-vetted and badged visitor is sent back into the vestibule. The administrator makes sure that no unauthorized person is present before buzzing the visitor through into the rest of the school. Ideally, CCTV cameras can monitor the visitor’s progress through the building. While in session, classroom doors are locked to provide a further layer of protection for the students and teachers.
To learn more about the pilot program and how it could help schools around the nation and the world, don’t miss this informative session.
The late Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This is especially true for security professionals who strive to make their organizations, businesses, facilities, and institutions safe and secure. This autumn, the ASIS 60th Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Atlanta can help provide the knowledge to reach that noble goal.