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March 2017 Letters to the Editor

?Risk of HarmThe article�An Intelligent Solution� by Joseph M. LaSorsa, CPP, which was published in the January 2017 edition of Security Management, seems to strongly suggest that the use of physical surveillance should be a common practice in workplace violence cases. It is not and should not be.�

Having worked more than 4,500 workplace violence cases, and having helped to develop some of the foundational protocols addressing this issue, I am very concerned about this misrepresentation of the use of physical surveillance of potential instigators of violence. This representation minimizes the behavioral and legal risks of using this tactic.

�The purpose of a risk assessment is to decrease the risk of physical violence, so a central tenet is to make certain that your methodology does not escalate the potential risk of harm. From the behavioral perspective, many instigators exhibit paranoid thinking�believing people are out to get them, for example�so they are hyper-vigilant and reactive to their surroundings. Putting physical surveillance on such a person in the community risks having them notice the surveillance. This notice could, and has, led to physical confrontations with the surveillance personnel, but also has triggered retaliatory physical behavior against individuals and organizations who initiated the surveillance against the instigator.

If any resulting physical violence is judged to have been caused by the actions of the organization, significant legal judgments and awards could follow. The organization can also be exposed to increased civil liability for claims of invasion of privacy, stalking, and emotional distress caused by the surveillance. The ensuing legal issues could also escalate the risk of violence from emotionally fragile instigators.

For these reasons, in all the cases I have worked, I have only used mobile physical surveillance once, but I have used site specific, fixed, countersurveillance in an untold number of cases. Fixed countersurveillance allows the instigator to travel freely in the community, but should they come to a protected area, such as the worksite or a coworker�s home, for example, the threat level is escalated and additional measures, including police contact and restraining orders, could be justified.

The countersurveillance team can also serve as a quick reaction team should the probing turn into an attempted physical confrontation or assault, all without creating the elevated behavioral and legal risks that could ensue by following someone around in the community as they go about their lives.�

James S. Cawood, PhD, CPP, PCI, PSP, CTM�(Certified Threat Manager). President,�Factor One.?The Author Responds

In response to the thoughtful letter written by James S. Cawood, PhD, CPP, PCI, PSP, CTM, I would like to acknowledge the thought-provoking nature of the response and the validity of the arguments presented. Next, I would have to strongly discourage the mindset of applying a generic, cookie-cutter response to any dynamic issue, but rather inspire the systematic finding of the most appropriate solution to a problem based on the specific situations surrounding an individual case.�

Although I am confident that most readers correctly interpreted the intent of the article, I would like to again state my opinion that mobile physical surveillance is only one solution to a potential workplace violence situation. The response to such a complex issue should be determined based on the results of a rigorous risk analysis. This risk analysis should include behavioral cues and potential issues of liability.�

Without an appropriate assessment considering all potential solutions and countermeasures, and in a situation where the respondent�s concerns overwhelmed that decision making process, a forced static surveillance component may fail. In fact, without this strategy, most applications of static surveillance would fail because they would not, by definition, be proactive. In the case presented in my article, a risk management approach was taken and all relevant solutions and countermeasures were considered.�

The effective decision making process which resulted in an effective response was afforded by the intelligence collection methods presented within the article, by not limiting our options, and by relying on the facts of the case to guide us. This is not to say that this applies to every case, but in certain situations the characteristics justify consideration of all available means to create a viable, effective solution.�

In closing, all professionals, in every industry, should keep their minds open to the development of new solutions. Whether that solution is appropriate or will be successful depends on the situational characteristics of that particular task, threat, and environment.

Joseph M. LaSorsa, CPP.�Senior Partner,�LaSorsa & Associates.


Letters to the editor are welcomed and encouraged on all matters pertinent to security professionals. Letters should be emailed to [email protected]. Submissions may be edited for length and clarity.