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JUST OUTRIGHT SAD!

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Three years ago, I was informed that a good friend’s family member had committed suicide. A beautiful 22 year old, with everything going for her – decided to end her life. Her family was devastated; her mother couldn’t forgive herself for not seeing any signs.

You could imagine the mourning and sadness her family went through in dealing with this tragedy. Not even a year later, her mom was diagnosed with cancer. The mother said, “maybe my daughter is missing me, with my daughter in heaven and my son here – I am torn”.

A month ago, I was at her funeral. People say – she didn’t die of cancer but rather of a broken heart.

Statistics show that people who have committed suicide have tried to reach out in some way. The world will always ponder how suicide can be prevented. Social media can definitely be one channel for monitoring suicide and using social media as a preventative measuring tool. Social media surveillance can be utilized in schools to check for not only bullying but also for vulnerabilities and the mental health of their students. In addition, parents can check on the status of their children especially during trying years.

For more information:

http://afimacglobal.com/info-sellsheets/AFIMAC/pdf/SocialMediaInvestigations-CAN.pdf

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Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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El Chapo

The son of wanted drug lord ‘El Chapo’, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, received a lot of attention when he tweeted a photo of himself and his father eating dinner on August 31st. Although the tweet gave away his possible location, law enforcement has still not found one of the most wanted criminals in the world. The chase continues with Mexican authorities along with the FBI and DEA.

I continue to be amazed at how much can be found on social media. When data is harvested, normalized, interpreted and analyzed it can prove to be very valuable. As gathering information can be labour intensive and cumbersome, tools now exist that automate most of the process. Instead of spending valuable time in the collection phase, you can now focus on analyzing the information, draw conclusions and potentially determine your next steps in the process. AFIMAC’s Social media investigations are gaining traction, as it is a good way to find information about a person of interest. This service even can detect keywords and notify you through email and/or text.

It is being used as a part of recruitment processes where a snapshot or a ‘footprint‘ is often beneficial in weeding out undesirable candidates or to gain intelligence on suspected employees involved in embezzlement, substance abuse or harassment.

In a recent example, a client was concerned about drug use in the workplace. Although it was just a rumour, nobody was able or willing to point out who the users were. The client had some suspects. They decided to monitor these employees on open source social media to see if any interesting facts would come up. Keywords they used included “high”, “dope”, “joint”, etc. After 14 days, an alert came up on the word “high”. One of the suspects was bragging on his Facebook page about the fact that he worked better being “high”. He was a forklift driver in a large warehouse. An investigation commenced and an investigator at the facility interviewed the suspect. The investigator not only was able to have the suspect confess, but he also gave names of some of the other employees getting high on regular basis. The employee was terminated. The staff was warned and had to re-sign the HR policies that specifically prohibited drug or alcohol use during work hours.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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Fire Prevention

From my bedroom I can see the windows of the house across the street are still boarded up. It seems to be taking forever to clean up and restore what once was a beautiful decorated home.

One day last September, I received a call from my wife telling me that our street was full of police and fire trucks. Our neighbour’s house was on fire. Flames leaked out the front and side of the house. The fire department was able to control the fire within a couple of hours. Luckily there were no casualties, but the damage was extensive. We later heard that the lint in the dryer caught fire, and then spread from the laundry room to the garage and hallway. The mother was home with her two children and smelled smoke, saw the flames and was able to leave the house unharmed. After the insurance adjuster checked out the site, he called in security to preserve the evidence and to ensure that nobody would be able to enter the premise, preventing any further incidents.

Several companies, including ASAP Secured, provide fire scene security. Experienced guards are sent to the site within two hours guaranteed. Security will stay on site until the investigation is completed, or the risk of unauthorized people entering the premise has been reduced. In this case, the house got boarded up after 2 days. The structure was still intact, leading to a yearlong renovation that is still underway. It is important to be aware of the risks of a fire in your home and to take precautions. Cleaning the lint out of the dryer regularly, not leaving the stove on and not leaving the iron plugged in when going away are some common sense practices. Also important is installing smoke and CO alarms in the main areas of your house. These devices need to be tested regularly for battery efficiency.

As for my neighbours across the street, the mother was awake and smelled the smoke early, giving her the opportunity to leave in time, but it could have ended in a real disaster including the loss of several lives. In the end, their insurance covered most of the damage and the whole neighbourhood also chipped in to help them out.

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The Need to Protect Your [Cargo] Assets

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a seminar about Truck Safety and Security that was hosted by the Caledon detachment of the OPP and the Ministry of Transportation. The seminar was well attended by drivers and management representatives from transportation companies (large and small) from around the area. I learned a lot about what the inspectors from the Ministry of Transportation look for when they perform their safety checks on commercial vehicles and trailers on the road; everything from required CVORs, daily trip inspection reports, and logbooks to driver rules and working load limits. All very interesting information, but what was of most interest to me was what information and insight the officers from the OPP’s Cargo Crime Unit was going to provide in their presentation.

The presentation started off with an introduction to CPTED and an explanation of the underlying principles and design philosophy behind the program. I was familiar with CPTED, the acronym for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, as my organization is CPTED trained and frequently performs threat risk assessments and site assessments for our clients. The officer talked about how businesses can reduce the fear and incidence of crime by using the environment to enforce the three CPTED principles: Natural Surveillance, Natural Access Control and Territorial Reinforcement. The officer went on to say that for many companies in the transportation industry, it translates to “establishing natural sightlines which would keep intruders under observation” and gave some examples of successful applications, which included: orienting driveways and paths so that they can be easily observed, trimming back overgrown landscaping to eliminate hiding spots, implementing mechanical forms of surveillance such as CCTV, security and/or mobile patrols, installing fences, low walls, gates and barriers that create an undesired risk for potential perpetrators to enter the property and engage in criminal activity and finally establishing a visitor reporting procedure.

Next was a discussion about criminal activities and trends. This section of the presentation was of particular interest, as I’ve done presentations several times on the topic of Cargo Crime and ways to mitigate loss of cargo at a facility or on the road. According to the OPP’s Cargo Crime Unit, “it all comes down to drugs” and the predominant trend is that theft of cargo is a crime of opportunity. Using an illustration of a triangle, the officer described crime using three factors: desire, ability and opportunity. Thieves have a desire for money, and the ability to steal, so to protect yourself and your cargo. It is important that you don’t make it easy – eliminate the opportunity.

According to the officer, statistically the number of cargo theft incidents is rising. This echoed my findings. The authorities are seeing an increase in metal thefts, especially copper and aluminum. What was surprising was the increase in theft of clothing, recycling, garbage and scrap metal bins. All items made of metal. Car dealerships and construction sites with equipment are also being routinely targeted for the metal left out in the open and unprotected. I was surprised to learn that battery theft from trucks, communication equipment and traffic signs have also seen an increase. In addition, there is a rise in theft of diesel fuel stolen directly from truck tanks while the driver is inside a rest or truck stop while on route. For many of those who I talked with at the seminar, these facts brought to light the ever-increasing need to protect their [cargo] assets and I took the opportunity to speak with them about the services my company can provide.

To learn more about ways to protect your property, people, assets or cargo #justASKMEE.

Posted in: Protective Services and Investigations

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I Was Meant to Feel Safe

Ron 2

 

The Pan Am Games have been in full swing for a week now and Team Canada has been doing extremely well. The security team from ASAP Secured has been working hard to protect people, property and equipment at several competition sites in the Western GTA. Over the past week I’ve stayed away from downtown Toronto fearing heavy traffic and large crowds. However, on Friday my wife and I had the chance to go downtown to take in a Blue Jays game.

Rather than fight traffic and watch cars drive by us in the often talked about ‘HOV lanes’, we decided to take the TTC to Union Station and walk to the Rogers Centre. When we arrived at Union Station I noticed a very prominent presence of police and security personnel. I was very impressed and felt that my safety was their priority. At the Rogers Centre there was also an increased police and security presence. Bags were being checked at entry points and corridors were being patrolled. Between innings, police and security stood guard on the field. After the game we headed to Nathan Philip’s Square to watch some Pan Am festivities. Unfortunately the evening’s concert was over, but the crowd was still large. Again, the police and security presence was very noticeable. We felt safe.

Prior to the Pan Am Games, ASAP Secured was involved in extensive planning sessions, as were the other security companies who had been selected to provide security to Pan Am sites and related public places. Guards had to go through extensive background checks, receive ‘accreditation’ and specific training on the procedures for the site they were assigned to. Now that the Games are on, those plans are being executed and to the best of my knowledge there have not been any safety concerns. I am grateful for the services of the authorities and the security professionals working the Games. They are working hard to ensure the Games and the spectators are secure. Because of them, I was meant to feel safe.

 

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Hiking at Yoho National Park in British Columbia

Does having an overactive security mind have a downside?

I was on vacation with my family last week. We went camping at Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park, British Columbia. It was my children’s first camping adventure and what a spectacular place to experience it. My husband and I wanted our children to enjoy nature’s beauty at its best. Lake O’Hara is a family friendly campground, 11km from the nearest road and completely off the grid. It was absolutely beautiful!

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We arrived at the campsite early in the afternoon and headed straight to the mountains to find the beautiful glacier lakes. As we hiked, my mind was distracted by stories of bear attacks (even though we were informed that there hasn’t been a bear sighting this whole year). So I had to convince the city girl in me that all is fine and to just enjoy the serenity and nature’s beauty.

I was finally able to free it from my mind and enjoy my surroundings. Then I started to think of all the other potential risks associated with this experience. We were on some pretty advanced level trails that I didn’t prepare for. We brought bear spray, bear bells and other protective equipment to ward off bears, but didn’t think about the other dangers related to the trails we were hiking on. I looked down and sure enough one wrong step could have been fatal.

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What are we prepared to risk? Yes, clearly I was stressed because I felt that I was unprepared and didn’t have a full assessment of other possible risks, aside from bears. Whether personal or professional, have you and/or the corporation you represent evaluated your security program? Consider and protect against all possibilities and never cut corners (literally in my case)!

As my work colleague Rob Shuster always says, “You’ll never know you avoided a crisis if you’ve properly planned to avoid it.” Assess all risks, and then make an educated decision on what your security program will look like!

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Social Responsibility

I had no idea that walking could be so tiring. On June 13th, several employees from our company walked countless laps for “Relay for Life”. This event is organized by the Cancer Society, supporting research to find a cure for cancer and for families that deal with the financial consequences of having a family member that is battling the disease. In many instances the care for a patient, the medication required and reduced income earnings result in financial difficulties.

The relay took place at the Milton Fairgrounds and the weather was great – not too warm or too cold. It started Saturday afternoon at 1pm and ended 12 hours later at 1am Sunday morning. The relay has an opening lap for the cancer survivors, several special commemoration moments and a closing lap for all. Supporting at least one charity is good corporate citizenship. It is important to choose events that are meaningful for most employees, not controversial and if possible, events that can be supported by a service or product delivered by the company. In the case of ASAP Secured, we provided complimentary guard service for many of the relay events. As cancer has touched almost everyone in one way or another, it is easy to have people rally behind this cause. It is important to recognize that apart from the altruistic reasons, there is also a business side to the equation.

From a business perspective, it is important to support a charity for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the employees feel good about working for a company that takes social responsibility seriously which increases retention. Secondly, many Requests for Proposals (RFP) have a section where it questions your social responsibility. In the case of ASAP Secured, there was a third aspect where the guards were able to show their professionalism to a large audience.

Of course the main reason to support the Cancer Society is to help fund research and hopefully the battle against this devastating decease can be won one day.

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With a Calm Voice She Took Care of Me

Ron

My wife and I recently went to Sicily to celebrate my best friend’s 10th anniversary. Although most of the trip was pre-planned by my friend, we did have 3 days on our own and rented a car to drive around the island and see the sights.

I also rented a GPS to help me get around. This was my first time in Sicily, and in the Mediterranean for that matter. I had heard many stories about how aggressive the drivers were in this part of the world, so I wanted to make sure that I, ‘the turista’, didn’t cause too many problems on the road. On our first day, we had to drive 3 ½ hours on a main highway from Palermo to Catania. About an hour or so into the drive, we discovered that a big section of the highway was closed and we were being forced to take a detour. The detour took us up into the mountains, far from the highway, along some very narrow roads and through many small villages. It was a good thing we had the GPS because the detour route went up and down several mountains turning left and right at many intersections and the detour signs were far and few between. Had it not been for the comforting British female voice coming from the GPS, instructing us which direction we should go, we certainly would have gotten lost!

That lovely voice calmly got us to each destination we chose to visit during those 3 days. She knew exactly which exit to take on the roundabouts, and how to get to the big cities we wanted to visit via the back roads, so we could see and experience the small coastal fishing villages and towns.

I was so happy that we rented the GPS. It saved the day. I would not have been able to get around in this foreign country, with a language I did not speak or understand if it were not for that voice.

Having the GPS with me made me think of the travel and executive protection services my sister company, AFIMAC Global provides to company executives and employees who travel to foreign countries to conduct business. Much like my experience, company representatives have to contend with different languages, unknown territory, and local politics and customs. Sometimes they have to visit factories or sites that are located in areas that are prone to violence or personal attacks. Using an organization who specializes in security and travel protection, employees can have peace of mind knowing that they will be securely transferred from point A to B, and that they will be protected should anything untoward happen.

Having AFIMAC Global at your service is much like having that calm British voice direct me around Sicily. “At the roundabout, go left, second exit”.

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Leadership Traits I Thrive to Achieve

Having a leadership role for the past thirteen years in the security industry, has provided me with some traits I would like to share:

1. Listen
Tune in to what the client is saying, and how you can help. Bring forward these great ideas to your organization and proceed to discuss the partnership and vision with the client.

2. Support Field Staff
Support your field staff and provide leadership.

3. Be Yourself
You spend so much time at work and you’re so dedicated to your company, tell your story! It’s rare and refreshing, and makes your security team feel like they know you — and want to help you succeed.

4. Communicate
Every employee is part of the team, and every role is needed to succeed. Clear communication to define expectations and the reasoning behind them is what creates loyalty and commitment.

5. Teach
Focus on providing guidance for your team.

6. Be Service-Oriented
Stay focused on others that require your support.

7. Be Accountable
Be transparent with your client and your team when a screw-up is your fault.

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I Met The Third Best Hull!

Meeting Dennis Hull @ OIAA Provincial

Growing up in rural Ontario, I was fortunate to be able to play hockey with my younger brother on Bonner’s pond, across from our house. We played as often as we could until the daylight faded and we could no longer see the puck. With only two of us on the ice, we switched positions often. In net we would pretend to be Tony O and out of net, Bobby Hull. Oh, how I loved being Bobby Hull!

Bobby’s third youngest son is Brett Hull. Brett was also a super star in the NHL. When Brett wrote his first book, I took advantage of a promotion I found in the sports section of the newspaper, where you could purchase the book and get it autographed by Brett Hull. That was a gift for my brother, a hockey nut and a collector of all things hockey.

Many years later, I had a son who took to hockey and played at the rep level. I went to all of his games and practices, except for when I had to be out town for work. At one of his practices that I wasn’t able to attend, I missed seeing Bobby Hull in the arena watching his grandson play. My son was 8 years old at that time and didn’t know who Bobby Hull was, but all the Dads did. They encouraged their boys to approach Mr. Hull and get his autograph. Bobby, being the gentleman he is, signed every one of their sticks! Later that night, I got home just before my son’s bedtime and he told me about meeting an old hockey player at his practice. He didn’t tell me his name. He no doubt had forgotten it, but when I saw the autograph I was dumbfounded. I had missed meeting my hockey idol because of a work commitment. To this day, that hockey stick, with Bobby’s signature HOF ’83, is proudly displayed above my son’s bed. I think he likes to remind me and rub it in.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the OIAA Provincial Claims Conference at the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. I went with another colleague and a couple of ASAP guards who provided access control and various other duties. Dennis Hull, humorously known as ‘the third best Hull’, was the guest speaker during lunch. He was a great speaker, had lots of stories and made us all laugh. I remember Dennis when he played for the Hawks on the right wing with his brother Bobby, on the left. I never thought I would ever get the chance to meet him, but I got that opportunity after the lunch. It was great talking with him. He signed his book for me, which I will give to my brother. Later that day, a silent auction was held during the final dinner, where I bid on several pieces of hockey memorabilia. Luckily for me, there were 3 Bobby Hull items with his autograph on them. I watched the bid sheets ‘like a Hawk’ and was fortunate to come away the winner of a signed McFarlane figurine. This time I’ve decided to keep it and not give it to my brother. I’ve given him enough signed hockey memorabilia. It’s about as close as I’ll ever get to Bobby Hull, other than meeting his brother, ‘the third best Hull’.

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