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Protests: It's in the Details

While it is imperative to write out an overall physical and strategic security approach, strategic details can help ensure a smooth response to a protest. 


Managers should make sure they understand the company's rights as well as legal restrictions. Missteps can lead to legal problems and reputational damage. It is especially important to check local and state ordinances pertaining to photos, video, and audio recording.


The plan should call for continuing the types of surveillance and countersurveillance performed in the initial risk assessment. The goal is to be able to anticipate new actions and tactics, even during the incident.


The plan should assign staff to establish relationships with law enforcement, fire, medical, and other agencies. It may be useful to engage in joint training with those agencies and to coordinate response protocols in advance.


Management must also consider how it wishes to respond to protester violence, property destruction, and threats. In some cases, companies opt to focus on collecting evidence of illegal behavior instead of acting forcefully to stop it. The idea is that it is easier and better to win in the courts instead of on the street.


Many companies look for outside help when a protest or riot is looming. Security needs will be high, so extra staff will likely be required. Also, because such events are rare, the usual proprietary or contract security officers are unlikely to have the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience needed.