Hugh O'Rourke

A new year always brings opportunity for assessment, evaluation and improvement – not only in our personal lives but also in our professional ones. Today’s threat landscape delivers significant challenges for security professionals at organizations of every size. Cities across the nation are experiencing crime at record levels. More than a dozen major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Chicago, are experiencing homicides and violent crime at the highest numbers in decades. Smash-and-grab retail robberies, car jackings and assaults are surging from coast to coast. In just the first few weeks of this year, New York City has seen a 35% rise in crime and a 62% jump in grand larceny.

Experts point to various factors including the pandemic, changing economy, nationwide police shortages and criminal justice reform for creating a permissive environment for criminal activity. Public order is suffering. With these alarming impact points as a backdrop, what steps should businesses take in 2022 to improve their security posture?

Comprehensive Threat Assessment

A robust and layered security program is essential for every organization, although perhaps even more important is the frequent and consistent review of that plan. All too often, weak security links go unnoticed until it is too late. Many organizations continue to rely on outdated programs and fail to recognize the importance of a fresh perspective and evaluation against current circumstances. Threat assessments are recommended at least annually. It is important to partner with an industry expert to examine all areas of the business and identify security gaps, no matter how small. Only when current risks are identified, can appropriate and effective countermeasures be put in place to harden security.

Six critical factors must be examined:

Deter: Is there an appropriate level of deterrence in place to create a formidable building appearance? This is one of the most operationally efficient and cost-effective methods to minimize potentially hostile activity and includes initiatives such as active patrol programs, counter-surveillance programs and physical protection system enhancements. 

Detect: Do you have robust monitoring solutions actively in place to detect unwanted activity? This may include armed or unarmed protective services, explosive detection canine teams and 360-degree camera coverage of your perimeter tied to a central alarm point.

Delay: What control methods are being used to slow threats infiltrating the facility and provide sufficient response time? Physical barriers, locking mechanisms, electronic security systems and visitor management protocols are just some of the ways to delay perpetrators from reaching critical assets and personnel.

Assess: Who has an eye on surveillance in near-real time? They must be well prepared to immediately assess what they see and act accordingly, following a well-defined set of proper protocols.

Communicate: When and how will your team communicate a security issue to key stakeholders and outside agencies if a breach of security is identified? Have a plan on who will address perpetual criminal issues in your building and when they will engage the security team, local police, fire department or others.

Respond: When and how will your team respond physically to an alarm condition? The response should always be in real-time, whether that is engaging proper authorities or responding and mitigating the threat on site, in-person.

From a security standpoint, the best organizations are active, rigorous and vigilant. They are committed to being nimble to ensure improved processes are consistently applied to stay ahead of emerging threats. While there are many aspects to consider when re-evaluating your security plan, a strong, layered security program will continue to be non-negotiable in 2022.

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