With the summer right around the corner, many homeowners will be leaving their home and heading out on summer vacation getaways.
Whether a homeowner plans to be away for a day or several months, ASAP security personnel will ensure that the home is secure and complies with any insurance policy rules for vacant property. Many homeowners are not aware that standard home insurance frequently does not cover damage incurred while a home is vacant if it is not inspected on a regular basis. ASAP security personnels will visit the residence on a predetermined schedule to monitor all plumbing, electrical, and mechanical components of the home. During each visit, they look for unusual activity or suspicious persons in the area as well as functional problems such as water leaks or damage. This ASAP service is also a vital option for individuals with seasonal residences.
For more information on Residential Watch services click here.
Implementing security measures at public events is always a challenge. The amount of delay and inconvenience caused by security needs to be weighed against the visitors’ experience and the overall goal of the event. At sporting events, games are ongoing throughout the year and security has the advantage of experimenting with different measures and improving upon methods where needed. For a ‘one off’ event, it is more difficult as there is only one chance to get it right.
On Canada Day in Ottawa, many people wanted to get to Parliament Hill to see the festivities. The security inside the Parliamentary precinct was the responsibility of the RCMP and the Parliamentary Protective Service, which also managed the lines and screening stations. Some people waited three to four hours in line waiting to get on Parliament Hill. Some people breezed through security, but others were left angry and frustrated. Many took to social media or contacted newspapers with their complaints such as “Ottawa should be embarrassed,” “Shame on Ottawa,” and “Ottawa failed its tourists”.
Darlene Macartney of Toronto complained of disorganization and poor services for those waiting in line. “You wanted us to come to Ottawa. We came. We spent over the top exorbitant prices for hotel rooms,” she wrote. “We got up early in the rain to line up for what we thought might be two hours to get onto Parliament Hill. No. We waited 5 and a half hours with no exaggeration,” Macartney wrote.
The capacity for screening was not adequate to deal with the number of visitors and the times at which they arrived. Ottawa had aimed to screen 8,000 people per hour with two screening stations, but that was based on the expectation people would arrive dressed for summer weather. In fact, they came in rain gear, many with backpacks, food, and drinks since there was no food available in the area.
Logistic principals could have been improved upon by eliminating bottlenecks in line. Perhaps, the two screening stations should have been more flexible and either increased capacity or added a third screening station to deal with the peak in demand.
I think the screening protocols were well thought out, and instructions were clear, so changing these to speed the process up would not have been a good idea. This would have created an increased risk, which would not have been acceptable.
On a positive note, Canada Day’s celebrations were enjoyed without any major incidents, and the security was sufficient.
As with most business professionals, I receive several invites for seminars weekly. Unfortunately, I can only make time to attend one workshop per month and need to decide which one. When selecting, I gravitate towards relevance, and if will it help me become a better leader and increase my knowledge base.
Seminars are a great platform to interact with customers, prospects and a wider audience. It gives you an opportunity to step away from your day-to-day challenges and allows for some reflection time. I have attended some excellent informative events where topics such as Duty of Care, Active Shooter Response and Investigations were part of the program.
Panels are a good way to create more interaction with the audience. A question and answer period after each presentation is a must, as without this opportunity people are left with unanswered inquiries. In each seminar, the quality of the message is the most important, not the number of slides. Presenters must be able to convey the message in an enthusiastic way to engage the audience. When they are true experts with a passion for their topic, the audience will be drawn in.
People remember people and will chat during the breaks about what they just learned. Although sometimes seen as less important, the location and set-up are key for a successful event to create the perfect ‘learning environment’.
Overall, attending well-run seminars is a great way to spend your time to keep learning and developing.
A truck with a trailer full of avocados from the southern US was expected to arrive in Brampton, Ontario on Saturday. When the trailer did not arrive on time, the receiving party started calling the supply chain partner to find out where the trailer had gone missing. This disrupted the delivery to one of the largest grocery chains, leading to unhappy customers.
Cargo loads go missing on a regular basis, specifically in the corridor between Windsor and Montreal. The missing goods are usually high value, easy to sell electronics, pharmaceuticals, and clothing but in the last decade, we have seen it change to include vegetables, fruit and baby formula to name a few. There seems to be a buyer for every type of product.
The MO varies widely from breaking into a parked trailer to taking a trailer or even the truck and trailer completely. Smashing through a fence of a trailer yard and using a cab to hook up the trailer is a common occurrence. Most often the criminals know what trailer to take as they have acquired inside information.
Another way of getting the wanted product is stealing the cab and trailer when left unattended by the driver. Many trucks are left idling when the driver gets out at a truck stop. The thieves quickly drive to a predetermined location to hook the trailer to another cab and then drive off to a warehouse or a dealer that will buy the stolen goods.
The consequences are serious as thefts can result in a financial and reputational loss. Also disrupting the supply chain may lead to empty shelves. Since a company’s reputation is on the line, there is a high rate of unreported thefts.
Several steps can be taken by the trucking, insurance, and logistic industry to help prevent these types of crimes.
- Review of the supply chain security
To secure cargo, supply chain partners should employ a multi-layered approach that incorporates the latest technology and fine-tuned basic practices, such as extensive staff training
- Do a site risk assessment
One of the most obvious steps for a company to take is to have a site risk assessment done. Even if the security situation is being assessed by an in-house security professional, a second pair of eyes always seems to lead to increased insight. The findings presented in a report can then be used to improve the security situation to reduce cargo crime.
A proper assessment includes a physical inspection, review of procedures and interviews with management and front line staff. The findings will then be discussed with management and recommendations will be formulated. In most cases, the recommendations consist of physical security enhancements (access control or CCTV), development or update of procedures and training of staff. Making front line staff aware of the risks and teaching them how to act in various circumstances will have a positive effect. Not only will it help reduce theft, but it will also boost morale.
Many of you must have gone through some leadership training during your career. The experience and effectiveness vary wildly. Sometimes lengthy and expensive training does not generate the desired results. If there is no follow up on the initial training, effectiveness is often low. Experience has proven that taking managers through exercises with some theory before and after generates the best results. The exercises are often remembered and contain good learning elements. The outcome varies based on the instruction, the type of training and the motivation of the group.
I recently attended a leadership training session that involved an outdoor snow exercise. The group was divided into teams of five, and each team had an hour to build a quinzhee. A quinzhee is a shelter carved out of a large pile of snow. Each group received an instruction sheet with the requirements. The team that met the most requirements won the challenge. The space inside the quinzhee had to be large enough to house the group of 5 comfortably for the night. The instructor prepared equal sized piles of snow along with shovels, spades, little rakes and buckets.
As the groups went to work, it was interesting to see the different approaches. One team immediately added more snow to the pile and dug an entrance. Another team took their time reading the instructions and discussed the division of tasks and ideas. One group had to deal with conflicts between members and divisions within the team.
As time progressed, team members started glancing at the competition, and some decided to change their approach. After an hour, the results from each group were very different. Some quinzhees were small, not finished, or collapsed. The instructor evaluated each team on 12 requirements.
The lessons learned from the winning teams were:
- Take the time to read the instructions (but not too long) carefully
- Ask questions early on to make sure you understand the requirements
- Accept a clear leadership structure
- Discuss capabilities and divide tasks accordingly
- Evaluate progress regularly and compare with competition
- Tweak approach where and when it makes sense
- Check on team members and give support when required
- Boost the morale with motivational cheers
- Have a determined approach, not aggressive
The exercise was a good learning experience. It provided new insights but more so confirmed what we already knew. The combination of a physical challenge, a visual result, and a discussion afterward, made for a lasting memory. Furthermore, it proved that good leadership, clear strategy, teamwork, sense of urgency, regular reviews and the right culture make a winning team.
Everybody in our industry can explain the importance of post orders as a means to clarify roles and responsibilities between parties involved. The most commonly used definition is: Post orders are written documents that clearly outline duties, responsibilities, and expectations of security guards. The client, service provider and security professional fulfilling the role can find out what is expected by looking at the post orders. Often the post orders become extensive and complex. Some sections can be used as a manual in non-urgent situations, while other parts are essential and describe actions that need to be taken in emergencies. To ensure guards know what to do, they should be trained and quizzed regularly. The use of quick reference cards has proven helpful and can also be used as instructions for short term assignments. It is also important to explain the logic behind the procedures. If it makes sense to someone, it is easier to follow and remember.
Even when guards are well trained and know the post orders, they can fail. Specifically in situations when instructions are not fully detailed in the post orders or when it differs from the normal course of action.
On December 19th, 2016, an unexpected tragedy shook the diplomatic world; Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov was assassinated at an art gallery exhibition in front of several TV cameras. Mevlut Mert Altintas, an off-duty police officer, shot him. Although the post orders apparently outlined how to act in a situation like this, the security officers got confused. They should have refused access and inquired with managing authorities before letting the off-duty police officer in. Instead, they were intimidated by the police badge and let him through.
Another example is seen in the film Snowden, when Edward Snowden makes copies of confidential files and exits the CIA building with the files. At the risk of a “spoiler alert” I will refrain from revealing further details, but the post orders were not followed thus leading to an international scandal.
In short, post orders are essential and should be followed to the letter. Training and testing are essential to keep security officers on their toes. Moreover, when in doubt, no access should be given until further verification has been confirmed.
For retailers, the holiday season is the most important time of the year, as this is when most of their revenue is generated. Unfortunately, it also the time of year when theft increases.
A recently published report revealed the downside of holiday shopping, which included increased shrink, significantly impacting a retailers’ ability to see a healthy profit margin during the final quarter.
According to the 2016 retail holiday season global forecast, retailers are expected to experience both their heaviest sales volumes and their weakest performances as it relates to margin rates during Q4, due primarily to increased shrink and theft from both internal (employee theft and fraud) and external (shoplifting, organized retail crime) sources.
The report stated that in North America, the holiday season contributes roughly 34% of a retailers’ annual sales base but also incurred 37% of its annual shrink loss. Overall, shrink during the fourth quarter is about 15% higher than the rest of the year.
“This time of the year there are a variety of different things impacting brick-and-mortar stores. On one side of the fence, there is the traditional mindset that people think about Black Friday, the fourth quarter and the holiday season as being robust and beneficial for retailers when it’s actually somewhat the opposite in many cases,” retail loss prevention analyst and report author Ernie Deyle says.
There are a few things that retailers can do to prevent an increase in shrinkage. It all starts with a holiday plan (play book) that outlines the specific measures that need to be taken. It is important to make security a part of the overall plan. Although security is usually driven by the security department, loss prevention should be the responsibility of all store associates. The plan should be detailed and cover the extra measures that need to be put in place as well as detailed task lists. Most retailers will ask for additional guards or loss prevention officers. They also need to ensure their CCTV systems and other security devices are in working order. It is important to train staff in advance and conduct daily briefings, so staff members and security personnel are aware of their specific roles. Areas with increased risk of theft should be identified and turned into zones with increased customer engagement with staff. The task list can be divided into three categories such as opening, closing and during business hours.
The opening task list should contain elements like:
- Checking merchandise for proper security (tags)
- Ensuring the electronic article surveillance (EAS) gates are working for high traffic
- Validate locked areas (merchandise cabinets) and perimeter openings
- Validate that all PIN pads/payment devices are secure
During business hours, it is key to recognize suspicious behaviour and increased risk factors, such as:
- People coming in with empty or large shopping bags
- People taking merchandise into bathrooms
- Heavy clothing and unusual attire
- People with strollers or carts
- PiIing stacks of merchandise
- Overly friendly people asking question as a distraction tactic
- People paying extra attention to the location, checking cameras
- Moving merchandise from busy areas to more remote places in the store
The closing task list should contain elements like:
- Conducting a thorough walk of the store
- Checking fitting rooms, bathrooms and corners of the store
- Validate locked areas and doors
- Ensure that all pinpads / payment devices are secure
I surely hope that the holiday season will give the retailers good sales and a healthy margin with no incidents to speak of.
I had a discussion among several security professionals about five years ago. We discussed the need for high-quality protection services in the Canadian market. The consensus was that there was not going to be high demand in a country as safe and secure as Canada. Our environment was considered very different from the market in the US and South America. Since that discussion, a lot has changed. Terrorism is not a strange phenomenon anymore, and violent incidents are on the rise. Protection services are being used for all sorts of situations, such as a high-risk termination. Having an agent present in the room or close by will have a deescalating and calming effect. There are also many larger scale events where protection is required; AGMs and conferences where protests are expected, such as in the forestry or nuclear industry. Pipelines are often controversial and attract protestors who are against building pipelines on aboriginal grounds or through nature reserves.
For example, just a few weeks ago, thousands gathered in downtown Vancouver on Saturday to protest Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline project. At the same time, at the other end of the country, about a thousand people gathered in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto to protest President-elect Donald Trump and his proposed policies.
In general, when an event creates risks to employees or the public, there is no question about the need for an immediate, safe resolution. To prepare for a potential crisis is vital. A provider of protection services should formulate a detailed plan customized for their client’s needs. The plan needs to outline the scope and describe how decisions will be made and what resources will be deployed against predetermined threats. It should also specify all the relevant details of agents involved, contact and escalation protocols and what if scenarios. It is beneficial to include client training to ensure their awareness of any security vulnerabilities and to teach control tactics.
Hopefully, the proactive measures being taken will limit the incidents of future protests and other high-risk events.
The idea of police concentrating on core assignments and moving other tasks to the private sector (security industry) is nothing new. However, in the last two years, the topic has gained more interest to reduce the growth in budgets.
As police salaries have continually increased over the past decade, the Liberal government now has to face the unenviable task of telling public servants to hold the line. Police are one of the biggest costs for municipal taxpayers and it just keeps growing. This is also the case for provincial police (OPP), but small municipalities are hit the hardest because they do not have a large commercial and industrial tax base to rely on.
One solution is to contract out non-core police duties to security firms. Police officers that make the ‘sunshine list’ are taking routine reports, acting as receptionists at police stations, giving parking tickets and doing the work of administrative assistants. Well-trained security staff can perform these types of duties for less than half the cost. There is no logic in having a police officer directing traffic around a construction site. The security industry does not want to replace police officers, but simply to play a role fulfilling the routine work that doesn’t require police training. With today’s ongoing threats of terrorism, the police service has more important tasks to concentrate on.
Toronto is seriously looking into this issue. In June of this year, an interim report was published “The Way Forward: Modernizing Community Safety in Toronto”. Although the report centres around improving the quality of service, it also recognizes the need for cost reduction and changing primary tasks. The report contains 24 interim recommendations and is expected to be completed by the end of this year. Various proposals may lead to some police tasks, such as paid duty, shifting to the security industry. The current process of paid duty is not well understood and often puts the reputation of the Toronto Police service at risk. The final report will include working with a risk assessment model to ensure off-duty police officers are only used in a paid duty capacity where their skills, authority, and training are necessary.
We will follow these developments closely.