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Month: July, 2016

The squeaky wheel…

          You know that old phrase…”The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, don’t you? It means that if you raise enough of a stink, ruckus, or complain about something enough you’ll get noticed, much like Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders, and therefore something gets done!

          But in security what seems to be the squeaky wheel at this moment? It should be fairly obvious to everyone within the field. And those outside the field probably won’t even bother with it until it affects them. And the pros inside it…let’s just say they’re happy as clams because they get more & more money to buy toys. Older toys and not the newer shiner ones to be sure, but toys none the less.

          So what is this new shiny thing that is distracting from the physical security and getting all the headlines? Plainly put, cyber security, computers, breaches, hacking, malware, and a plethora of other threats takes all of our focus. And unfortunately a lot of money, cyber security is neither cheap nor easy.

          But the question may be to a lot of people is why it’s so much in the headlines and takes things away from physical security. That answer is just as simple. Money, moola, greenbacks, dinero, whatever you wanna call it.

           A cyber breach costs money to everyone that associates with a certain organization. From the retail sector, remember Target, Lowe’s, & Home Depot? What malware and breaches of health care & insurance companies? And then educational institutions are #3 with all of their social security numbers, birth dates, names, & etc.

          It’s an embarrassment to the company that has to admit a breach or their cyber defenses. Yet many companies don’t, or refuse, to upgrade their defenses because the C-suite has no clue what they are doing. CEO’s, CFO’s, and others are the bean counters and don’t think it’s necessary…until a breach occurs and they’re caught red-handed in not doing what they should have done.

          Understandably, the C-suite doesn’t want to make the investment into their cyber security or networks for several reasons;

1. they don’t understand the risk of a breach. Despite the innumerable news reports of ransomware in hospitals, police departments, & other places they have on blinders. And worse, according to several reports in the past few months executives rarely change their passwords

2.  It costs a lot of money to constantly upgrade the systems. And then of course they have to hire a professional ‘gun slinger’ who can understand and implement everything.

3.  ensure everyone else knows the value of the program.

  4. The profit of the company will go down and it will reflect on them & the company. Of course they bad publicity doesn’t bother them that much…until it happens.

5. The shareholders don’t like spending money on something that doesn’t have a significant ROI. See above.


          Therefore cyber & network security gets pushed to the back burner. Usually the IT managers get to buy programs that are safer but… Many times these systems are completely non compatible and it costs more money than the cost of the top of the line software would have, to correct. And yes this does happen. Let me tell you about this company here in the Phoenix area, a non-profit to be exact and the issues they’re IT department has.

          2 years ago they spent approx… $2 million for a new software that would allow easier recording of customer data and the changes to it. Then last year they installed new software, at accost of another $2.5M that would allow easier access to ordering materials for customers from all departments.

          Sounds great dudnit? The only issue was that it cost another $1M to make the 2 programs compatible, which they still aren’t fully integrated after a year. The rub? A software program that would have cost only $4M to purchase, install, & tech support was available, but the C-suite wouldn’t budget for it because it was too expensive.

          This is true story and I will not name the company or specific location to prevent them from being too humiliated and having to make excuses for the clumsiness of their IT Dept. This being despite the IT Managers wanting the better software all-in-one programs.

           The C-suiters, across the world, are in denial about the cost of implementing good cyber & network security. Some are beginning to come around and putting the requests for more resources & specific programs on the front burner.

          But it is still the same story. As soon as cyber& network security drifts out of the publics view it will lapse and go back to saving money for the sake of the shareholders. That is until the wheel becomes squeaky again and a breach causes millions of dollars’ worth of damage.

          And I do have to say it is the same with physical security. When a breach of security possibly causes a loss to the company, then more money is spent on replacing/repairing what was broken and probably at a better fix instead of spit & baling wire.

          And with workplace violence it is virtually the same. After San Bernardino, companies, by the hundreds or thousands, were scared to death of what might happen. Articles appeared in the media everywhere. Now…it’s a subject barely discussed…anywhere, except at security meetings.

           So what is the next squeaky wheel for the public, media, & C-suite to grab on too and blame those of us in the field? Are we prepared for the finger pointing…again?


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

The power of the pen can…

You’ve heard the old cliche about the power of the pen can… do practically anything. The power of the pen can be a very powerful influence in the world. And when it comes to security it can actually stop bullets and death!

You may think I’ve went completely off the deep end with this analogy. But let me explain a bit and you’ll fully understand how the pen can stop bullets and in most respects death, or at the very least serious injury to someone.

It’s called using the pen to document. The power of the pen causes the advent of documentation to report such items and documentation can enable a company to refer an individual who may be close to… Therefore it can actually stop bullets and death.

Using the pen’s power and documenting items of, possibly not relevant according to most employees, is the easiest way to either terminate or get assistance for an employee who may be close to going off on the company or co-workers. If the employee is unaware of their behavior, then it can be used as a tool for any necessary assistance they may need and don’t want to seek for themselves.

The first thing is, However, you must start with teaching your employees that anything that is even potentially, no matter how remotely it may seem, threatening must be documented in a detailed AND original verbiage form, so that it can be handled by either human resources, either by disciplinary action or referring them to the employee assistance program (EAP (, or management.

This is an area that can become very uncomfortable for most people, and the reasoning is simple. If an employee makes threats or is otherwise harassing co-workers, then the exact verbiage, with no asterisks i.e. Son-of-a-b**** mother f******, must be written down. It is unfortunate, but even if that employee uses all kinds of vulgar language and expletives the reporting employee/supervisor must record it, in the exact way it was said. And it can, and more than likely will, become important in a legal proceeding.

Will this go against the religious precepts and practices of some employees? Of that there is no doubt. It will be painfully uncomfortable for them to relive, recount, and relay those vulgar words in a written report or in court. But the thing that we need to instruct them on is this; which is worse, the language they are forced to use or that someone gets hurt or killed because they didn’t?

The offending employee must then defend their words & actions to human resources, management, legal, security, or the police. There can be absolutely no wiggle room in the meaning of any words that were spoken. This may be uncomfortable for many people to do or listen to. And even if they aren’t particularly religious it offends some to use such language. But even forcing them to listen to such it is necessary, especially in a management position.

But if the employee is suspended or terminated because of this incident then they can argue, possibly successfully, that they didn’t say that and they mean’ to say this instead. This will, possibly, throw doubt on the testimony of the co-worker, with some legal maneuvering, into question. If that happens, then it may be thrown out and the dangerous employee reinstated. And that could be disastrous to co-workers, especially the one who came forward with the documentation and testimony.

When talking about documentation you also have to have the date, time, and place where the incident was heard. If the co-worker over-heard it in the lunch room, then it must be stated that it was there at, and I can’t overstate the idea of using the word, approx. when relating to the time because not every clock & watch is at the same time all the time.  And it doesn’t matter where they heard it, even off duty. If they over-heard a conversation in a bar by the employee concerning their co-workers, then it must also be stated as such.

While it may be embarrassing for the co-workers they must be willing to write it down and report when they can. To not do so may endanger the lives of many other co-workers and the actual business itself. And if they were doing something nefarious themselves, then they will have to ‘out’ themselves no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

Documentation is one of those vitally necessary things to prove in a court of law that you followed every possible recourse and that the employee was destined for termination. All incidents involving employees-the fights, arguments, and so on must be documented every single time, even if it fills reams of paper. The supervisor needs to gather names of witnesses, exact, using approx., times and dates, and what was said including the exact verbiage used.

Will this be a pain the ass for everyone who has to document? Of course it will. Can it potentially save lives? Absolutely. If you knew if you got an oil change today would save you from your car breaking down on the I-1o in Phoenix during rush hour, would you do it?


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent nearly 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                                       I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

Sticks & stones may break my bones but…

Words will never hurt me. So says the nursery rhyme. And that would be wonderful if that kindergarten attitude could hold true throughout our life. But it never does. Eventually words will get to someone and then… it means that they will add up and make someone go nuclear, or if you prefer, postal.

The question is can we prevent any form of workplace violence (WPV), without the totalitarian method of the future use of drugs to pacify the masses? The answer I’m going to give is a bit oxymoronic for most people. But the simple out N out truth is yes and no. I did say it was a bit oxymoronic, didn’t I?

For WPV that starts inside a business with employees. the answer is yes we can lessen the liability of the company and reduce the risk of an incident. It’s not simple nor can it be a one size fits all solution. But it can be done for these kinds of WPV incidents. Or at the very least reduce the likelihood of one;

  • Bullying – sometimes the buck up & take it like a man approach doesn’t work
  • Vandalism – no matter what it is can be greatly reduced
  • Harassment- sexual, teasing & all other forms, good natured or not
  • Assault – both physical & verbal, from co-workers & customers
  • Even from customers we can mitigate the damage

But on the other hand we can’t prevent many other kinds of WPV. And these far outnumber the ones we can. Here is a small sampling of what we can’t prevent;

* Robberies with assault which accounts for 79%-85% of all WPV incidents

* Arson- which can be nearly impossible to stop at any time

* Domestic abuse from customers against customers

* Child abuse by a customer

* An employee committing WPV against a co-worker off duty or at their residence

* Random acts by people who don’t know how to act civilized i.e.  Throwing an alligator through a drive thru window (Wendy’s Florida 2015)

In this society we live in, free, we can’t protect everyone from everything, not even from violence. Therefore, we have to be as protective as we can and take the steps to lessen the impact or possibility of violence occurring in our businesses and schools. And we have to do this without curtailing the freedoms we’ve been granted by the U.S. Constitution.

From the stereotypical ‘angry employee’ to the customer who comes in and begins verbally assaulting everyone & everything in sight, we need to have the training, policies, procedures, & people to stop it. And as I said above, there is no way we can prevent everything and all types of violence in our businesses. It would cost, literally, millions of dollars in financial resources and would entail one possible scenario; having a person track every single person in the business at all times 2 steps behind.

But those who are there to protect us, or trained to do so, need to know that you are there to back them up and not down grade or denigrate what they do. If they are in the right, no matter how asinine it may seem, we need to back them up. If they’re wrong, then it’ll be rectified by management (or at least we hope so anyway).

And as far as whether an incident can be prevented, we need to look at other possibilities for responsibility other than just the security people. From those making the policies/procedures i.e. human resources & the c-suite, to the individual managers in charge of their people ignoring warning signs of someone who may turn out to be violent. And of course the innumerable regulations those businesses are now charged with upholding which can be crippling in the fight against crime and violence within the business.

The nursery rhyme that I used to start this post is applicable in the idea that unless the words are hurtful, threatening, or implying something of the sort then they won’t hurt you, unless you hire a good defense attorney. It’s only when someone uses a weapon, which can be innumerable in the extreme, to physically harm someone. Like what you ask?

  • Coffee cups
  • Hot liquids & chemicals
  • Metal rods/poles/scrap metal
  • Maintenance tools
  • Pens &pencils (if sharpened…I have a story about that!
  • Any office equipment
  • Vehicles
  • Human or animal waste including urinating in the break room coffee pot (Wire Rope Corporation of America 1988)
  • Cigarette lighters
  • Books, notebooks, paper bundles
  • Landscaping equipment

Need I go on with the number of weapons around you?

The answer to can we prevent any incidents of WPV is simple. Yes & no. It just depends on which facet of WPV we encounter in the course of the day. But also keep in mind that nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever guaranteed. Some people will defy the attempt to quantify their behavior and actions into a comfortable zone of being inside the box and go off on you or someone.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

               I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

An epidemic of Workplace violence in healthcare-Part 3

We discussed the issue of workplace violence (WPV) in health care facilities. Now it’s time to discuss how we can actually prevent it, if at all possible. And being realistic and blunt…we can’t. However we can mitigate some of the risk and lessen the potential for serious injury.

Health care institutions look to get the worst end of criminal behavior because they are reluctant to acknowledge it openly to the public because it clouds their reputation. There are many ways that a health care facility can limit criminal activity within their walls. It isn’t easy, or cheap, but… And if you are going to be truly committed to it will take time, probably more time than the C-suite or employees will want to waste on it but again…

Here are some of my suggestions for all health care facilities, hospitals, clinics, surgery centers, & even doctors’ offices, to increase their security. And this will extend to everyone who is on-site. If you want an objective viewpoint, you may want to contact a consultant. At the very least you can ask your local police department to conduct a preliminary survey. But remember they don’t necessarily know everything they need for a private facility or health care organization.

Increase or add security Officers. Yes this can be expensive, but more expensive than a lawsuit & bad publicity?

Arm your security officers. I’m not advocating giving all officers firearms, but pepper spray, a TaSer, riot baton, or a firearm. As long as they receive certified training in the device…

Ensure officers duties don’t include items that don’t, or shouldn’t, involve security i.e. transporting deceased patients to the morgue.  This does happen to most departments, proprietary or contract. These duties need to be evaluated and see if they add anything to the efficiency and effectiveness of security.

All front line personnel, including security officers, need to be trained. Trained in what, you may ask other than the duties they are hired for? A short list;

De-escalation of angry upset patients & families. It has been noted in several surveys that people coming into hospitals are unusually angrier than they were a decade ago. This in turn leads to both threats and violence.

Customer service which directly collates to being able to deescalate someone & securing the facility

Active shooter incidents. Every employee needs to know how to react. Unfortunately, most health care organizations refuse to train their employees. And why? It frightens them and patients too much.

Policies & procedures. This goes for all employees so that they don’t ignore and allow security lapses or breaches

Adequately challenging someone any time, day or night. If someone is where they ain’t sposed to be…

Video systems. How many cameras do you have and are they monitored 24/7 by an officer and not an employee doing another job? It may be cost effective but is it security efficient?

          Reporting of incidents. A major concern for hospitals especially. Most doctors, nurses, & other staff don’t report verbal or physical assaults. Why? Because it mostly gets ignored and filed in round file #13, because it’s ‘just a part of the job, right?’

          Providing the proper resources. This is the one that leads to all others. Money drives everything, it doesn’t matter non-profit or for profit. Health care facilities need to start focusing on the quality of security, not cutting something because it’s perceived as too expensive. In a recent article in eweek (From “Health Care Breaches Common, But Budgets Stay Mostly Flat: Survey” (05/12/16) Lemos, Robert), it was noted that health care organizations put less than 1/3 of the money needed into security. The article talked about computer breaches but… Without the proper resources, it is analogous to fighting a grizzly bear with a sharp stick.

           It is a matter that officers, equipment, training (always training), weapons, controls, policies & procedures need to be in place and followed at all times with no exceptions. And if they aren’t followed then disciplinary action needs to be taken against those employees, no matter how small or trivial it seems, can we say perceived, to employees.

          The smallest thing can result in the loss of controlled substances including drug abuse by nurses, WPV incidents, & theft of other items. And then the organization has to deal with a multitude of other issues to squelch the bad publicity, especially if they have whistle blowers…

          A debate has been fired up lately about the ‘See Something Say Something’ cliché from the Department of Homeland Security. Everyone within a facility needs to speak up and say something to someone if they see, or even think they see something amiss! The amiss items could be stolen or use of drugs by staff, idle threats by families or patients and items being slipped into the pockets of the staff.

           Excuses shouldn’t be, and can’t be, ignored. Personal feelings aside about the C-suite and the way they conduct business. I wouldn’t never say turn someone in for taking a pencil or something like that but… if it turns out to be much larger and more expensive then…

           The security of our health care facilities should be of tantamount concern to everyone, but especially security professionals who are tasked with it. We may not have the proper resources to do our jobs properly; We may not get the management or C-suite support we need; We may be the inherent bad guys to 99% of all employees, visitors, families, & patients; But we need to do our best under circumstances that resemble the security of manufacturing plants of now, 10, 30, 50, & longer ago.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent nearly 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                   I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

Employees demand security…as long as they aren’t inconvenienced

Can anyone out there say knee-jerk reaction to an incident? It really doesn’t matter if it is only a financial loss or if the specter of workplace violence (WPV) raises its ugly hideous head and, unfortunately, someone happens to get injured or killed. No matter what it may be, there will be a knee-jerk over reaction to it from the c-suite or employees.

And we as security professionals are caught in the middle of it all, whether we want to be or not! We have been for a long time, especially at the field level, the red headed step child, whipping boy/girl, runt of the litter…and any other adjectives and phrases you can think of. We get the blame for it all.

If it doesn’t work and something is lost…it’s our fault. If someone ignores the safety/security protocols…it’s our fault. If someone hacks into the corporate network…it’s our fault. If something happens to go right and we actually stop an incident…it’s the C-suite that soaks up the accolades.

Times are a changin, but we are still stuck in that mentality. Everyone in the company, including vendors, visitors, and so on, want excellent security. However, if they are inconvenienced… then they don’t want to be bothered with any of it. It’s a hassle, slows them down, can’t finish their work, can’t do this & can’t do that.

The biggest example of this that I can think of is directly after September 11, 2001. That day was so overwhelming to the country and its citizens. Staring at the stark horror of the Twin Towers being stabbed, burned alive, and finally falling into a huge pile of rubble.

Security companies across the country were fielding requests for services, both new & add-on’s to current contracts, in an overwhelming deluge of phone calls. At First Response, Inc. in Mission, KS. We turned down more than 4,000 hours of billable hours because even with 84 hour weeks for everyone we couldn’t do it effectively or efficiently. We did accept an extra 500 hours of coverage for existing clients only, no new ones. Then the inevitable happened. Within 6 months, employees began complaining about the added security measures and the inconvenience.

When 6 months earlier they were stressed out and had such high anxiety about a possible terrorist attack at work they became complacent again and didn’t want security around. It was helped along by the owners, corporate boards, and others who were tired of paying such a high bill rate, which was by necessity overtime.

It continues today. Employees want a safe & secure place to work, and as employers it’s our obligation to give that to them. However, they don’t want any security that interferes with their ‘enjoyment’ of activities such as web surfing, opening phishing e-mails, on-line shopping, leaving early or arriving late, taking home 2 X 4’s, propping the door open for a smoke break, allowing people whom they don’t know into the building, and other such security breaches.

So the knee-jerk reactions continue and it is nothing but show. Far too many times, companies will make a show of increased security to placate the employees and anyone else who may be watching them. Then as soon as the news dies down the, possibly extra, security is gone.

If it was a real show of protecting company assets, which does include their employees, they would keep the security at the same level at all times, except in extreme circumstances. But they don’t, it is at the whim of those who prepare budgets and want to show sensitivity and compassion to frightened employees.

And while there is nothing wrong with showing your employees compassion &sensitivity, it must be genuine concern. It’s just like the scene in ‘Blazing Saddles’ 43 years ago when the townspeople constructed a fake town for the railroad to run them out of. It’s fake and intelligent people can see right through the façade, despite what upper management wants the employees to believe.

And employees who say they are frightened and have anxiety about something possibly happening at their facility? It’s practically as fake. Very few people have the instability to be that frightened or have that level of anxiety over the remote possibility of an incident of any kind.

As security professionals, how do we increase security and keep everyone happy from the C-suite to the front line employees? Unfortunately it’s a matter for creep. No matter what the situation may be and how quickly increased security needs to be implemented you have to take the frog in boiling water trick to it.

If you don’t recognize that reference, then it is fairly simple to explain creep this way. If you place a frog in a pot of tepid water that is comfortable for it and then turn on the burner. The frog will not try to escape as the water temperature increases at an ever so slight rate. Until it is too late and it is truly, and literally, cooked.

And even then you’ll still have the arguments that I outlined above. It is important to note that few people in this world appreciate the risks that we live with every single day. And not even all security professionals recognize it either which is unfortunate for everyone involved.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                    I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

An epidemic of Workplace violence in healthcare-Part 2

Security issues, including workplace violence (WPV), have, literally, invaded our health care institutions including hospitals. For security professionals it is time that, along with every other institution, that we do what we can to stop it or at the very least reduce the risk. If it makes people mad, upset, or whatever…But with good security and preventive measures they will always be someone who is upset, or offended, by what you’re doing.

Health care institutions are by their very nature supposed to be places that are open, friendly, inviting to visitors, & places of compassion and comfort. Unfortunately far too many take this much further than is intended by committing a crime and violence while on the grounds.

And even more unfortunate is that the medical staff account for more than 85% of the ones assaulted. While overall less than 2% of all reported incidents, they result in more than 20% of injuries and lost time incidents. And this in and of itself pushes up the cost of the healthcare facility and their associated costs.

These costs must be absorbed by the organizations. These cuts involve everything including but not limited to; cuts to staff and small perks to them, as well as the cost to us of course, & we won’t mention the liability & workers comp. Add these up along with the lost time, health care (for the injured employee), and possibly lawsuits and you can see how easily the financial costs rise quickly. And these costs are totally outside the Return on Investment for any other project yet…

At one hospital just last year, a nurse overheard a conversation between a nurse and police officer guarding a violent prisoner. This exchange has been paraphrased for brevity; the nurse began discussing the incident with the police officer, and she was informed “It’s all in the line of work you do. It’s not a real assault, you expect that sort of thing. So, we don’t necessarily do anything about that.”

The nurse then quietly responded “So when a police officer gets shot and wounded or killed, it’s no big deal. It’s the same thing, you expect it to happen. Therefore we shouldn’t really take it that seriously, right?” She got a shocked look.  Eventually the officer started to look at the facts a bit differently.

One of the biggest issues with WPV in healthcare is the overall lack of security. Hospitals, and other healthcare facilities, are for-profit institutions, even the ones that are called non-profit. And because they are for-profit, they don’t want to spend money on a cost center as they believe security is. And they don’t listen to the logical stats & arguments that say that it can actually increase profits and not drain them.

And because of this, most security departments are not as well funded or staffed as they should be. Good security can be expensive and time consuming to administration and supporting staff. To them it’s a necessary evil and a hindrance & doesn’t add to the bottom line, which of course it does in numerous uncounted ways.

Healthcare facilities want their facilities to be warm, compassionate, &inviting, which is as it should be. However, there has to be a balance of security with the idea of not turning it into a gulag. That balance is determined by the location of the facility, including affiliated sites.

Healthcare institutions are also one of the last places you would expect to see or hear about the bullying, harassment, or threats by supervisors/managers against employees much less the disinterest by those even higher up in the echelon of command. But it occurs to more than 95% of all employees.  And because it doesn’t occur here (It Can’t Happen Here), nothing is done to either stop or curb it.

As the professionals tasked with ensuring the safety & security we must do what we can for the protection of the hospital, its employees, vendors, & patients. Even if we have to play politics to do it. And no one likes to do that, I hope anyway. Over and above that, we need to ensure that every single request for additional financial resources is accompanied by a substantial return on investment (ROI) strategy as well, as with every other business, before submitting a proposal to the c-suite.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

       I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

Lead, follow, or just plain get the hell out of the way!

We’ve heard that phrase, literally, for decades. I’m not sure who coined it, but it certainly applies when you begin discussing having on site security. More importantly, though, is when you begin thinking about trying to mitigate the carnage that a workplace violence (WPV) incident can cause.

YOU need to be the one to lead the company through this quagmire of detail and time. Not the legal department. Not the c-suite. Not human resources. No one but YOU. u It’s up to you to be the leader and not a follower. Nor do you want to get the hell out of the way, like the supervisor at U.S. Security Associates in 2010 (when a former employee came back into the facility he ran and hid and did… nothing but hide.

So what are the steps you need to take before you can be relatively assured that you are as safe as you can be? And that answer has to be without erecting guard towers, 10 foot fences topped with razor wire, and officers patrolling with their Uzi’s & hand grenades at the ready! I will attempt to give a short list of what I think is needed.

This list will not explain every step. The facility is yours. And the company culture will dictate what kind of measures you can implement, heaven forbid if someone is inconvenienced by them. Every facility and company culture is different.

  • Writing a disaster recovery plan for all issues not just WPV
  • Conducting a complete & thorough security assessment, which by necessity includes inventory control, parking, access, physical, alarms, officers, & door control
  • Auditing background checks & procedures to ensure that someone who may be prone to violence is monitored if you hire them
  • Auditing HR policies & procedures as it relates to the many facets of WPV and the possibility of restraining orders being served. This would include bullying, harassment, fights, & etc.
  • Auditing the termination policies & procedures and also by necessity the possibility of a high risk termination. Which means protection for the manager conducting the termination as well as everyone else within the facility.
  • Auditing security policies & procedures in regards to domestic violence, restraining orders, & threats by anyone. How will you protect people at work, to & from their vehicle, & what other assistance will/can you offer
  • Ensuring that you have emergency back-up in security if needed. Having a security company that can have an armed officer(s) on-site within a few hours is a definite plus. Or just extra officers period
  • Your employee assistance program is ready to go at a moments notice. Counseling for grief & mental health among the many facets of this
  • What about your customer service attitude and how it affects potentially violent people?
  • Has your entire company been trained in what to do in the case of an active shooter or perpetrator? Training for security problems shouldn’t just be a security issue
  • Training your employees with the fight, hide, or run scenarios along with table top exercises utilizing lead and supervisory personnel as well
  • Are you emergency call lists up-to-date?

And going along with that is your security operations manual up-to-date or does it look like testimony from a senate committee and highly redacted?

As I stated above, these are only a few of the points that need to be looked at and covered when discussing a WPV plan of action. These plans can be detailed oriented and time consuming. That’s why I would always recommend a consultant for them.

However, if the financial resources for security are tight, as most are, then you’ll have to purchase something that may not be as effective. A ‘Plan of Action in a box/book/program/app is a good starting point. Unfortunately that starting point is like saying you can build a car with a tire as a starting place.

Take the pains to do it right. The consequences of not doing it right can cost you, and your company, millions. All you have to do is look at other cases of inadequate security, WPV, inadequate training, & supervision and the like to understand. After the incident, which is when you’ll usually get the resources, is too late to do it the right way.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

                                     I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

According to recent research, approx. 30% of nurses & 24% of doctors have been the victims of workplace violence (WPV) but refused to report it. And why did they not report being verbally or physically assaulted? Because it is discouraged by the healthcare organizations themselves.

The same research report also stated that 60% of all non-fatal WPV incidents occur in a health care setting, making them a focal point. Facilities such as;

  • hospitals
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • nursing homes
  • residential care facilities
  • Long term care facilities
  • Hospice in some cases, although this is mainly by families
  • social-service agencies

It is also because these organizations, and many police departments, that it is considered a part of the job in the healthcare field so why worry and report it? And then there is the appearance that the hospital is not safe and it will scare away both visitors & patients. And of course that would cost the organization financial resources, which unfortunately drives even non-profits.

So how prevalent is WPV in healthcare settings? You rarely hear about it. In fact unless an 89-year-old man shoots and kills his 87-year-old wife because she is terminally ill or a gang member shoots up the ER you never do. But it happens on a daily basis. And what are these incidents? Here is a short list of what entails WPV in a healthcare setting, leaving the obvious ones.

  • Being spit on
  • Having urine or fecal matter thrown at them
  • Being stabbed with a needle, intentionally
  • Trays, urinals, bed pans, & etc. being thrown
  • Punched, kicked, gouged, & shoved
  • Being screamed at, sometimes threateningly, by either the patient or family members

Then the question becomes what kind of patients does these things? It is as diverse as the hospitals mission and illnesses present;

  • Mentally ill patients
  • Those who have suffered severe brain trauma due to an accident
  • Alcoholics, and drug addicts, going through their detox cycle
  • Alcoholics, and drug addicts, who are in the final throes of liver/kidney/heart failure,
  • Patients, and family members, who have just an overall bad attitude
  • Patients who refuse to comply because they ‘own and rule’ the hospital floor or unit

And again that is just a short list of issues that I have learned about since being very close to an ICU nurse for the past 15 years. If you talk to nurses at any healthcare facility, of any kind and in confidence, I’m sure you could get innumerable kinds of patients that become violent, as well as stories.

Still not convinced about the seriousness of WPV in healthcare? Here are a number of statistics that may change your mind:

  • Nearly 75 percent of all workplace assaults between 2011 and 2013 occurred within a healthcare facility
  • Between 2000 and 2011, 154 shootings resulted in an injury on the grounds
  • 80 percent of emergency medical workers experience physical violence during their careers
  • 39 percent of nurses report verbal assaults each year
  • 13 percent of nurses report physical abuse each year
  • 85% of all health care workers have experienced a form of WPV
  • 48% of all workplace violence incidents are against healthcare and social service workers
  • 2% is perpetrated by someone with a connection to the facility; patient, family, or inmate. While this category is lowest, the majority of non-fatal violence is in this group.

Still think that WPV isn’t an issue within healthcare organizations? If you discuss this with any security supervisor, manager, director, vice president or whatever their title may be, they will admit it. But unless there has been a large massively known national incident, they won’t admit it publicly. That is because what I said above; they want the hospital to be perceived as safe and untroubled by any forms of violence. Which is simply not the case.

Hospital administration, in the c-suite, is in complete denial about security. Even if the structure of the corporation has a VP of Security or Risk Management. They are loathe to turn financial resources over to security/loss prevention to actually improve the security program without a fight. And the fight is as bad as it was for security managers 30, 40, or more years ago.

The 2nd part of this series will focus on other security issues next week.


Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent 33 years in the security field. Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many, where you will read about other items related to security & WPV issues. Or be a twitter follower at @robertsollars2.

         I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

Workplace Violence incidents for June

Phoenix, AZ. June 1                                                     1d

Los Angeles, CA. June 1 (school)                               3d

Fremont, CA. June 1                            2w

San Jose, CA. June 2 (political)         1w

Newark, NJ. June 2                         0

Memphis, TN. June 4                          2w                       1d

Phoenix, AZ. June 5                            3w                        3d

Phoenix, AZ. June 7                                                          1d

Dorchester, MA. June 8 (school)          3w                  1d

Washington D.C. June 9                                0

Orlando, FL. June 9                                                             2d

Dallas, tX. June 10                                    2w

Albuquerque, NM. June 13         0

Greenbelt, MD. June 14

(school & business)                         0

Amarillo, TX. June 14                                                           1d

Phoenix, AZ. June 15                      0

Phoenix, AZ. June 17                                                                1d

Aurora, CO. June 18                                                                1d

Las Vegas, NV. June 18 (political) 0

Tucson, AZ. June 22                        0

Ft. Worth, TX. June 24                    5w                                      2d

Jacksonville, FL. June 27                                                             1d

Holbrook, AZ. June 28                    1w                                          2d

Lumberton, NC. June 28                     1w

New York, NY. June 29                   0

Washington D.C. June 30                                             0

June: 26 Incidents  19 Dead 23 Wounded


Year-to-Date incidents: 154  Arizona: 53

73 Dead   143 wounded