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Month: August, 2016

School Violence Prevention – Training

     We’ve explored several aspects of school violence prevention in the last several posts. Now for the last part of the series, which would be one of the biggest prevention methods you can have. Training. Along with the recognition of the warning signs attitudes and physical security training may be the most important part of preventing violence in our schools. And trust me it’s not as easy as you may think to do this.

     Administrators and parents are readily willing to learn about active shootings and the idea of blaming others for the problem. But when it comes to blaming themselves, well … it’s not that easy to convince them about their need to train. So… a brief synopsis of what needs to be trained on, who needs to be trained in it, and how you need to train them is listed here;

What needs to be taught:

  1. Warning signs – and this means not to allow them to poo-poo the idea of what the warning signs mean.
  2. . The attitudes that can cause disenfranchisement,
  3. . Communication between teachers, administration, parents, & students. This is one area that absolutely has to be done. Communication is an absolute must for everyone concerned. From teachers, administrators, parents, & the kids themselves (age appropriate of course).
  4. . Understand that there is no such thing as deniability anymore. Administration, teachers, parents, & everyone else need to understand this and use #3. And going along with this is stop blaming everyone else for what your kids do. You’re the parent. Of course there is plenty of blame to go around but…
  5. . Zero tolerance doesn’t work. Zero tolerance is a way to avoid responsibility and not think about the potential incident. A way to dispense with the problem that may not be.
  6. . Security measures that isn’t secret. Do they need to know everything? No, but they need to assured that the school is safe – without being lied to or mislead.
  7. . Disaster/active shooter plan outlines – the same goes here as for #6. Just run over it quickly for parents. For school staff obviously it needs to be in depth.

 

Who needs to be trained & How

  1. EVERYONE! From students (kindergarten to seniors), parents, teachers, support staff, & administration, keeping it age appropriate of course.
  2. . Classroom style in a comfortable way. Serve coffee or water. Don’t let it be a sales bitch session atmosphere
  3. . If questions aren’t forthcoming, then use the Socratic Method, ask them questions and make them think about it. Make them train themselves.
  4. . Utilize the KISS Method as well. It’s not politically correct to say but Keep It Simple Stupid.
  5. . Use handouts as reference materials so they can retain what you talked about.
  6. Use disaster & active shooter drills within the school but do so sparingly. Once a year is good enough. Table top exercises should also be employed for staff.
  7. . Ensure that a full evaluation of your drills, training, & all other reference materials is documented, analyzed, researched, & acted on. It does no good to have a plan if it never gets updated. Remember the cliche’ by Mike Tyson “Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth”

So, how do we protect our kids while they’re at school? Keep in mind that no matter what we do, a child can always be killed at school due to another student. Even turning our schools into armed camps wouldn’t stop it all. Even pencils, staplers, and  other such common materials can be used as deadly weapons.

Being realistic, the only thing we can do to prevent our kids from being assaulted or killed at school is know the warning signs, attitudes, physical security, & training. Above that it is nearly impossible to protect them at every single moment of the day. Although I do know that I want to protect my kids even now – and they’re in their mid-30s for 2 and the other is 18. It never stops.

 

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

 

Are you serious, It Doesn’t Affect You?

50% of all employees, approx. 70 million, are affected by workplace violence (WPV), in one form or another. Worse still is the fact that 10% of employees, approx. 14 million, are assaulted, either verbally or physically, at work and sometimes away from it.

You say those numbers don’t affect you at all because it’s never happened where you work. Besides you and management both agree It Can’t Happen Here, right? Unfortunately, it does, and probably has, happened to you and your company, whether you see it that way or not.

However, if you look at the group that is stereotypically most likely to perpetrate an incident it is a current or former employee and it’s not with a firearm. Take a look on youtube for fight at work and you’ll see hundreds of videos of employees engaged in physical knock down drag outs while at work. That person may be a friend or close acquaintance. And you may be targeted because you’re happy and still working.

More than likely a fatality won’t come from them, but from a significant other, customer, or anyone else who may get loud, obnoxious, and violent inside of your business. And then the incident may be confined to just being verbally abusive or a fist fight, and not likely to be reported on the evening news. Which means it is easily dismissed as nothing important.

There are several reasons that can cause or help to prevent an incident. And while we’re not going into attitudes or warning signs this time… Then there are the economic factors to consider if you don’t want it to affect you. Each act of fatal WPV will cost the company more than $5.6 million per employee on average. If multiple employees are murdered, then the cost can easily rise to an astronomical number https://todays-training.com/2015/04/14/security-contractor-fined-47-million-over-wpv-incident/.

And those numbers don’t reflect the associated economic costs or losses. Overall, it costs American business in excess of $120 billion per year. Here is a small example of what they can, and usually do in any incident, entail:

  • Replacing windows, doors, carpet, repairing & painting walls
  • Cleaning up blood stains and other bodily fluids if necessary
  • Increased security, training, human resources, and associated  costs
  • Replacing machinery or other instruments
  • The cleaning of office space even just the aftermath of minutiae strewn everywhere because of a fight
  • Increased insurance costs, and yes your insurance costs will rise regardless of whether you are self-insured or not
  • The shutdown of the facility/business for potentially several days or weeks
  • The 6 – 8 weeks to get fully back into pre incident productivity

 

Is that enough to convince you? It can affect your pockets and your ability to provide for your family. And if you are the unfortunate one to be severely injured or murdered… how will the family keep going without your income and livelihood? It probably won’t be easy for them.

WPV is one of those things that every employer dreads yet avoids because they do not know how to deal with it.  Or worse they want to ignore the fact and say it can’t happen here. But ignoring it and sticking your head in the sand like an ostrich can do nothing but lead to you getting bit in the butt. It just doesn’t work.

I can guarantee you that there are thousands of personal injury attorneys that would love to get their hands on you while you’re on the witness stand, or in a recorded video deposition, and have you explain why you didn’t do anything to prevent an incident. They can, and usually will, cause you to say that you didn’t have the financial resources or the tired old cliché, it can’t happen here.

In the United States, as our culture continues to move towards a more Me First’ attitude and becoming divided over social, economic, political , and a myriad of other issues, the more likely that WPV will also continue to grow. And with that we have a multitude of mothers, fathers, siblings, wives, husbands, and children will be left without a loved one and wondering what happened since mommy or daddy aren’t coming home.

The number of WPV incidents will continue to grow from the 14 million to who knows how high. And it will come from the reasons and warning signs that exist now. What we as business owners and security professionals need to do are simple;

  • We need to learn to recognize the warning signs
  • Increase the security of our business in one form or another using a consultant if necessary. I’m not talking about just security ‘guards’, I refer you to the above link.
  • Teach the issue of WPV to employees making them responsible for helping to protect themselves
  • Work with anyone who can help you prevent an incident

 

Do you wish to see the children of victims on TV crying about someone they loved? Then asking the question why isn’t mommy or daddy coming home anymore? How would you answer, as a business owner or manager, those crying children when they ask you why you let it happen or why? Do you really want to say that you were short sighted and didn’t have the financial resources to do anything? If you don’t prepare then you may want to have some of those answers ready for the reporters.

 

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

School Violence Prevention – Physical Security

This is indeed a difficult topic to try and convey in just a few hundred words. There are literally, hundreds, possibly thousands, of books, not to mention articles & white papers, on securing an educational institution. And all of them have their points, both good and bad. Some are out dated and won’t work today. Others are a little further out in the universe than I am.

However, I’m going to attempt to boil it down into these few words with the most practical, effective, & efficient (both financially and time wise) for you. Most school districts aren’t flush with money, which was promised by lottery sales but then… But these won’t cost that many financial resources to put together.

 

  • The first point I want to make is that parents need to be involved with security for the school. They don’t need to know everything, but if they are a concerned parent then let them ask the necessary questions. As with all good security, you don’t need to disclose everything.

Should you be concerned with the questions about your security plans and other security related items? Of course! But if they happen to be a security professional, then you can ask for and get their input from a security standpoint. Even is the district has a security manager, what would it hurt to get another point of view of the security plans?

 

  • Don’t lie to the parents or the press. In the Phoenix area, I approached a district several years ago. I was told, extremely succinctly, that they had no issues. The next week a 14-year-old was arrested for filling a backpack with weapons to ‘solve a 4th hour problem’.

 

  • All doors should be locked at all times that school is in session. With the allowance that ‘crash bars’ on the doors for emergency exit. AND NEVER allow them to be propped open by anyone for any reason. There are innumerable kinds of alarms and locking mechanisms for classroom doors that are inexpensive to install and use.

 

  • Ensure that the glass in the side lites of the doors is not wide enough for someone to break and then open the doors from inside. These sidelights are standard installation in nearly all new construction to make them friendly and inviting. The only failure in security at the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012 was exactly this.

 

  • Access control – Everyone who enters the school needs to be required to go to the main office and get a visitors pass. Ideally, the entrance to the school can be redesigned so that everyone has to go through the main office after the doors are locked. This procedure would even include even delivery drivers for the kitchen, visitors, other deliveries, salesmen, and etc.

Another aspect of this is to attempt to funnel all the kids through one door when school is ready to start. This may not be very feasible with many older buildings, but then a teacher needs to be present at every entry/exit door before they are locked.

 

  • CCTV systems should also be considered. And never go for the cheap ones that you can get at Costco or Sam’s Club. They are efficient; however they are also not effective in identifying intruders or vandals after hours. A high quality system is a must. And the extra cost may help to catch a vandal, thief, or spot an active shooter before anyone gets hurt.

Necessarily your CCVS system needs to be monitored and recorded 24/7/365. A monitor over the receptionist desk or something similar may be acceptable in certain areas.

 

  • Lock up all hazardous materials. This may sound elementary, but you may be surprised at the explosive proof cabinets that are left unlocked, open, & with unsecured deadly chemicals

 

  • Disaster Recovery Plan. This is an absolute must, and not just for a potential active shooter situation. You must also include if you want the kids to ‘run, hide, fight’ or evacuate the building. The key with a DRP is that everyone in charge, from teachers, janitors, & everyone else who works inside, to know the plan so they can be effective if something would happen.

 

  • Get rid of those idiotic, ridiculous zero tolerance policies. They are a simple excuse to not do the job that the administration or district people should be doing. Too many times a kid bites his pop tart into a firearm and plays cops & robbers or army. Then they get expelled and ruin their academic career with a black mark that was stupid and foolish for administration to enforce.

 

Are these all the measures you can take? Not by a long shot, but it’s a start. We can always install 10 foot brick walls with concertina wire, guard towers, double vehicle and pedestrian gates. Hand wand and pat down everyone entering the campus and install GPS in every students backpack or arm.

But will that make them safer from a murderer? Yes, as long as the murderer comes in from outside, but what of the butter knife in the cafeteria or the hammer in shop class? And do we want our children trying to learn in an armed camp? Probably not. So what’s the solution? Training, training for everyone from resource officers to teachers to parents to the cafeteria employees. Good physical security measures that are not too intrusive and most importantly knowing our kids.

(Note: this is the 4th of 5 posts on school violence prevention. The last post will focus on training)

 

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 5 groups of People you represent

.          Typically, the first person a visitor will encounter when entering a building is a security officer. To that person you are the company.  Therefore, because of that you are representing five sets of people when you greet a visitor.

The client or company

If you are working in the contract industry, you as a security officer are representing the client you work for. I have seen and heard many examples of a potential client walking into facility staffed by security officers whose company was bidding for the potential client. Remember what they say about first appearances?

Some potential clients were immediately turned off by a surly, unkempt and unknowledgeable security ‘guard’, not officer. Therefore their business went to a competitor. On the other hand, some clients have been so impressed with the professionalism and demeanor of the officer; they decided to give the bid to their company.

A colleague of mine at First Response, Inc. of Mission KS. Was responsible for gaining a corporate account for us because of his actions, professionalism, demeanor, & customer service skills.

The potential client walked into an office building for a meeting. The officer instructed the man to the office which was through a myriad of twisting turning hallways & doors. The officer assisted him and guided him through the maze to the right office.

The company

Whether you work for a department or a contract agency, you are representing your company. Visitors, especially those on company business the c-suite, want to see a smiling, happy, professional sitting the front desk or other entrance. They want someone who is knowledgeable and can assist them in any way possible. When they see that, they will think that this company really cares about the safety, security, and comfort of their employees, clients, and visitors.

Company/ Client employees

Again, first impressions make lasting impressions. For the most part company visitors & employees will see you as an extension , enforcement arm, of the management. They may not even see the patch identifying your company, if you’re a contracted officer.

Seeing a sloppy, inattentive, unknowledgeable person sitting at the entrance of the building or patrolling the grounds, may make the visitor believe that the entire operation is just as uncaring. Which means lost revenue and fewer resources to do other things.

The security industry as a whole

You have seen the perception of security officers in television, movies, and print. They are generally portrayed as bumbling idiots who have no clue. Take the portrayal of security officers in the movies Armed & Dangerous or Mall Cop.

The ineptness that was shown of officers in those movies doesn’t improve the perception that many people already have of security.

You carry the weight of the 2 million security officers in the United States on your shoulders every time you put on your uniform. Movies, books, television, & other media all have the same portrayal of officers. We are the ones that have been mostly stigmatized by it.

Lastly you represent yourself. Yes, every time someone sees you, they form an opinion of you as well. What impression will they leave with? Will they be left with the impression that you are a competent & a professional officer? Or will they leave shaking their head that someone like you is protecting the property & lives of employees and that the company actually hired someone like you?

In 1983 when I started in the business I worked for Peachtree Doors & Windows in St. Joseph, MO. The Corporate Personnel Manager gave me a glowing recommendation letter stating that I had it all together and knew what I was doing and knew how to do it right.

He stated that I was a good example of what an officer should be. It was my job performance that pushed the client to go corporate with Wells Fargo Guard Services (now Securitas) at all 3 manufacturing plants & the corporate office. Wouldn’t you like to have that on your resume?

I’ve used the word sloppy in here several times. That is the perception that someone gets from an officer,, who does all of the other things wrong. If they are inattentive, sleepy, more interested in their phones than you, and kicked back in a chair most people will consider them sloppy.

Then of course there is the traditional sloppy. The kind of sloppy where you can tell that they have just finished eating chili or sloppy joes for lunch. And of course we won’t mention the untucked shirt, unkempt hair, beard growth, baggy pants and…

The days of the watchman, or guard, where you look sloppy, inept, unwilling to help & sleepy are long gone. The idea that you are just plain inept, unwilling to help, sloppy, and a What the Hell Do You Want attitude must also be thrown out. Or the question becomes do you want the perception that you don’t give a damn or that you have genuine concern and professionalism?

(This is an excerpt from the forthcoming book Customer Oriented Quality Service: The COQS Method, It is due out spring 2017)

 

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

 

Do employees need to be trained in how to prevent WPV?

          “Why do I need to train employees on workplace violence (WPV)? I mean, they don’t need to know all that stuff. it’ll just clog their day. And I don’t think they need to know that nonsense, because they need to do their job & concentrate on making the business successful so they’ll have a job tomorrow!”

This is a true statement, albeit paraphrase, that I got from a business owner when pitching him a wpV workshop for him and his employees. I attempted to explain to him the reasoning why they needed to know what to look for and how it can affect the business. Unfortunately, not being a salesman…

           Too many times the reasoning for not conducting training on WPV is financial & an attitude. Training costs money and lost productivity. If the training takes place during business hours then its lost productivity. If it’s done off hours they have to be paid so therefore it’s lost money.

           Secondly, it’s the employer’s attitude that I mentioned above. And that attitude? Many companies don’t train their employees on protecting themselves and co-workers in WPV. And why? Because they have that one most dangerous attitude I’ve talked about before, numerous times. Chh, Can’t Happen Here.

The key to recognizing and preventing WPV is training. Employees need to know what to look for and why they need to report those items. Warning signs especially are something to train them on because this is the first step in preventing an incident from employees, or former ones.

           I will venture a guess, by experience & observation, that most companies consider any training over and above the orientation session, on the employee’s job, is useless and too trivial to worry about. In some cases they may be correct, but not in this one. If you have an incident, do you want to have employees that are informed and know what to do or just run around in a sheer panic and make it worse for them and anyone else trying to help?

           Is not re-fresher training on sexual harassment or their benefits necessary? Maybe changes in shift hours or conditions? How about a new machine or product line? You have to spend time to train them on these, so WPV shouldn’t be any different.

But what do you train your employees in, other than the 21 warning signs? Here is a short list of the things that they need to be trained on & avoid, hopefully, an incident.

  • Where WPV occurs. You have to remember it doesn’t just happen at a business. Sometimes the business follows them home
  • Attitudes that they, and others in the company, may have that may encourage an incident from customers or co-workers. No one is immune to these attitudes, remember CHH?
  • Customer service attitude. And yes, I know you teach this to everyone. But you don’t necessarily teach them how customer service can prevent an incident. And before you can guffaw it can very easily.
  • Run, hide, and fight. You’ve seen the video and red the materials. But I think it needs to be taught, including the fight aspect. Yes fight. One employee should tuck the customers away in the back, but if the employee or customer is in front of you fight back and distract them.
  • Situational Awareness. Your employees need to have situational awareness, what it is, and how to develop it. Without it they may be clueless to what is coming. And that could prove fatal for someone
  • Evacuation Plans. Your employees need to know where the exits are, even if the place is filled with smoke. If an (ex) employee comes in to the business and create havoc, they will know every evacuation door. So the employees need to be instructed to think out-of-the-box in these situations.

           Training for an incident of WPV should be like all other programs. It needs to be done on a continual and consistent basis. It does no good to train for anything for a few days and then drop the entire program because you don’t have the time, energy, or financial resources. You have to make the time, find the money, and the energy to do it.

How do I answer those owners or managers who ask me the questions above? As simple as I can, in my own blunt and direct manner, I tell them that one such incident can put them out of business because of the cost and that it can happen to anyone (business), at any time, any-where, for any reason. And while the frequency of deadly WPV may be low, it doesn’t negate the fact that it can literally kill their business.

 

Robert D. Sollars is a recognized expert on security issues, specifically workplace violence. He’s spent nearly 33 years in the security field. Contact him at 480-251-5197 or Visit his Facebook page, One is too Many. Here 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

School Violence Prevention – Attitudes

This is the one post in this series that many people don’t want to read. Or if they do, they will simply say to themselves, and others, I/we don’t do those things. Unfortunately, those are the people that probably are the worst offenders and are courting a bloody disaster within their school.

Who has the above attitude that will say It Can’t Happen Here? That is easy to answer, even though most would probably deny it;

Administration

The school administration of any school, from public, private, & for profit, all are duplicitous in denying the below listed attitudes and the fact that school violence could happen. From secretaries in the office all the way through the school board & superintendent or President.

Parents

Some of the biggest offenders are the parents. The reasoning behind that statement that no doubt incites thoughts of Molotov cocktails. Who knows their kids better than a parent, supposedly? Parents are the ones that are tasked with knowing their kids and raising solid citizens. But too many times, and you can check the news reports of 99% of all shootings, the parents ignored both the warning signs & attitudes.

I mean “What the hell. They’re my little angel! They’d never do anything like that! He’s such a good boy! He’s a little troubled but nothing violent… Just because he plays shootem up’s, listens to that violent rap stuff, and loves those R rated gory movies…” Can we say Dylan Klebold & Eric Harris?

But without further ado, here is the list of most prevalent attitudes that allows violence to be committed in our schools. And if you look closely enough you may just find that these relate to workplace violence (WPV) as well. Some are explained others should be self-explanatory;

  • CHH (can’t happen here) or Ostrich syndrome. The biggest attitude that causes violence. From the differing reporting systems that say that a fist fight is not violence to teasing a littler student isn’t bullying.
  • NIH (not invented here). This basically means that the school refuses to do something that they themselves haven’t thought of. Or because it’s too “far out-of-the-box”. Or worse, someone might get into trouble and get fired.
  • How well does the school communicate with the parents and students? An incident in June 2016 where a student threatened to shoot up a school, Greenbelt, Md. June 14, wasn’t reported to parents until 4 days later. Why, “Because it wasn’t a credible threat…at the time”
  • Unequal enforcement of policies/procedures. Some kids deserve to be treated differently and be given special privileges. In my high school years it was the athletes, smart kids, cheerleaders/pep squad, & etc. along with their significant other of the minute. But it has to be tempered so that they don’t appear to be teachers/administration’s pet, which most were.
  • Perceived unequal treatment. The key word in here is perceived. Whatever someone perceives to be true then it’s true. Whether that truth is reality or not… You have to be careful with preferential treatment of anyone with the perception of being a ‘teacher’s pet’.
  • Authoritarian style of administration- it needs to be strict, but flexible. There is always a reason for someone doing what they do. If you utilize a zero tolerance policy on everything then you get what you get. You should toss out the zero tolerance policies, because they cause more trouble than they are worth.
  • We all stereotype people and kids are the worst at bullying, teasing, & ignoring those who are slightly different than what is considered ‘normal’ in school.

           Those are for the kids, teachers, & administration, but what about the parents? There are several ways that parental attitudes can get into the violence act as well. And most parents will never realize it, mainly because of having CHH;

  • Not My lil angel
  • Helicopter parenting – let the kids fail and learn. You can’t protect those lil angels their entire life. Worry about and offer advice when needed but protect…
  • Denial of a problem, akin to not my lil angel
  • Living in a Fantasy World- it has to be different ‘just for my kid because they’re special’. Of course they are special, all children and kids are. But unless they are physically or mentally disabled…
  • Continual excuses. Well they are going through a difficult time. The school is racist. The teachers are against them. The school isn’t built right for them. And on and on and on and on.

          How many parents do you see like this when taking your child to school? Or possibly at the PTA meetings or extracurricular events? If you look long and hard at yourself and others, I’m sure you can see it too.

Being realistic, all parents want the best for their kids in school & life. We are  ALL  wanting the best for them, they are our future after all, and are willing to look past some minor imperfections and stand up for them. But sometimes, it blinds us to a larger issue that needs attention.

That blindness can, and usually will, cause problems down the road. Whether that blindness causes us to deny anything wrong or berate the school or teachers for imagined discrimination don’t matter. We have to open our eyes to see what the issues are. Then we need to allow our kids to see the counselors, therapists, or whoever to possibly stop a violent incident.

(Note: this is the 3rd of 5 posts on school violence prevention. The next will focus on physical security for schools))

 

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

Writing a Professional report

One of the biggest complaints from clients in the protection industry is the fact that the officers can’t write reports. I should say, being more specific, reports that are legible and understandable. Most of the reports I have read when working in the field were full of misspellings, grammatical errors, and other issues.

You may think that in this day and age that everyone who is working such a communication and customer service oriented field would know how to write. But, sadly, many don’t. Some officers don’t even know how to spell, even if they’ve went to and gaduated high skool and use a dictionary.

Do I know all the answers to writing good reports for clients and ones that will stand up in court? Not by a long shot, I barely passed high school English with a D, nor do I claim to. But I can help keep you and your company outa trouble with courts, EEOC, unemployment insurance and other litigation with these tips;

 

Language

Don’t write using verbose or flowery language, this isn’t a college level language class. Write your report like you’re telling a friend what happened. Be conversational.

Don’t embellish anything on the report. Write down only the facts as you come to know them, nothing more, and nothing less.

 

Abbreviations

Spell out any abbreviations the first time you write them and then put the abbreviation right behind it. After that, just the abbreviation throughout. An example is security officer (s/o)

Always use people’s names in your reports if they are witnesses or reporting news of an incident to you. This will allow the company to verify exactly what they said. Not that the officer isn’t telling the truth but as an added back-up for anything that may occur later.

 

Time

          Always use military time, unless prohibited, this helps to avoid confusion (a little secret for you military time starts at 0001). The confusion when you write 2 O’clock, then the officer doesn’t remember whether it was AM or PM can be vitally important. Then the client and company reading the report later doesn’t know exactly either, which can be an issue if it goes to court.

Keep the report in chronological order as the officer comes to know it. In other words, write the report with the details as the officer learns them. If a fight occurs at 0400 but the officer doesn’t realize it until 0600, then he starts the report at 0600! Never write the report as if you’re omnipotent.

Use the word ‘approximately or approx.’ when writing the time. Not everyone’s watch keeps the same time. By using the term approximately you keep both the officer and the report from being questioned

 

Style

It should always be written in the 3rd person. Again, this will help alleviate any confusion as to who did what, when. If you have multiple officers involved, it will definitely help keep the story line straight.

The one item I still retain from my high school days in journalism is the 5 W’s & H. That stands for: Who, what, when, where, why, & how. This is the way the report should be written. Hopefully all 6 of those can be answered. However, sometimes they can’t.

 

Write your report as per current business guidelines.

That could mean indenting or not. It used to be, back when I started, you indented. Nowadays, business writing doesn’t indent.

Proper grammar will also help you from being questioned about your intelligence. Grammar (6th grade level) as well as spelling, punctuation, and the like should be monitored. Always have the officer have a dictionary close by for spelling

 

Beginning and End of

  • If allowed, then they also should draw an X through the empty part of the report, to prevent someone else from writing and adding to it. If not an X, then maybe a line that says ‘end of report’.

Fill out the report form completely. Leave no spaces unfilled. If you have empty spaces when you’re finished, then place something like N/A or unk. In them. Again, it makes it look formal and complete.

 

Every security company, their clients, and others, who employ proprietary officers, have a different way of writing their reports. I think it should be a standardized format for ease in courts and elsewhere, but…

These above guidelines are just that, guidelines. Everywhere an officer goes the format is bound to be a little different. And in the security field, how the client or security company wants their reports is the way you’ll write them.

Having your officers questioned over some trivial little thing such as spelling, the time, or the chronological order will only pour gas on the fire, especially if it is against the company or client. Just take care and remember these tips and you should be able to write reports that stand up in court, the EEOC, or an unemployment hearing.

 

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

School Violence Prevention – Warning Signs

The 1st post in this series focused on a potential scenario of a mass shooting in a school and many warning signs. Now the question is what are those warning signs? Here is the list I’ve collected over the past 27 years, starting with Mid-Buchanan Middle School in Faucett, MO. In 1988. Keep in mind that you may come up with better descriptions and more signs. I don’t pretend to have all the answers or that this is the definitive all-inclusive list.

Some of these have an explanation behind it. Others, like the previous posts, should be self-explanatory. Change these to suit your needs and situations. Some areas of the country will have different ones i.e. the Deep South or the Pacific Northwest. But I will warn you with these. Just because someone you know will have one or two of these doesn’t mean much. But when they start exhibiting 5, 6, 10, or more of these…

  • Threats veiled or overt. And with these you absolutely can’t forget with social media threats. It’s increasingly becoming a platform to say things that kids don’t believe have any consequences.
  • Poor relationships with everyone. From parents, other students, teachers, and so on.
  • Bullying – both being the bully and being bullied. There are enough incidents where the one being bullied turned the tables on their tormenters.
  • Cruelty to animals. And no this doesn’t have to be an incident of killing & gutting animals. Cruelty has many facets to it. Think about starving, teasing, kicking, burning, & etc.
  • Poor health & hygiene. This goes far beyond the Nirvana, or pigpen of Peanuts fame, filthy disgusting teen.
  • attendance problems
  • Inconsistent work habits. This doesn’t just mean not taking out the trash on time. All of their work suffers, from work at school, homework, part-time jobs, working at chores at home, it all adds up to the same thing.
  • Impact on teachers/counselors/administration/parent time. It builds gradually over time and takes up a considerable amount in the long run. From 5 minutes to an hour a few months later. And there is sometimes where it can start taking longer because of disciplinary issues.
  • Unusual or changed behavior- not so unusual for a teenager with hormones and growing up stress but…
  • Safety concerns (tripping and running into things. Again, not so unusual for an awkward teenager, but this goes beyond that even.
  • Sudden fascination with weapons. Live in a Household that holds hunting a fundamental right? That’s fine, it goes beyond that. As if a switch was flipped and they want to have bladed weapons, firearms, bomb making materials, & such.
  • Drug or alcohol addiction and don’t forget prescriptions and inhalants. And by prescriptions I mean check your medicine cabinet to ensure they are all there.
  • Violent music, video games, movies, television, & other entertainment. Teens are unlikely to watch the normal things we watched as kids ourselves, Andy Griffith, The Brady Bunch, Benson, Starsky & Hutch, Star trek, and etc. And our music…
  • Unshakable depression. And keep in mind that depression can easily be concealed by a smile and attitude.
  • Continual Excuses. Are they constantly and consistently pushing the blame for something off on someone else, more so than other teens?
  • Serious stress in personal life. You may not know what’s stressing them out personally. Divorce, addiction, medical issues, college entrance exams are potential issues. And it doesn’t have to be about them. Friends, family, or others they care about.
  • Concentration problems
  • Free expression. If they are creative and like to write short stories then this will be hard to spot and know if they really feel that way or not. A lot of teenagers like to write, or compose, dark brooding stories or songs. If they do…it’s okay as long as other signs aren’t there.
  • Mental illness – one of the hardest to spot because of the innumerable signs of it was well.
  • New Religious Fervor or political affiliation. Can we say ISIS or other religious entities that encourage killing others to satisfy their God?
  • Obsession With Military/Police Tactics

I feel the need to reiterate here that one or two of these signs are probably a teenager being a teenager. However, when these signs begin to add up and you have 4, 7, 9, 10, or more then you should begin to worry. Especially if they occur over a short period of time.

Now the question becomes how do you know how to recognize these students, how do you prevent another Columbine from occurring at your school? The answer is simple and yet very complex and at the same time difficult to ascertain.

The easy answer is to encourage people to ‘see/notice something say something’. It is becoming so cliché at this point, but it is your most effective weapon in preventing an incident.

And yes I know the unwritten code of teenagers, no snitching. But sometimes you have to do everything short of bullying them to get a teenager to fess up. And secondly…listen to what they tell you about school, friends, ‘the losers’, and so on. By listening to them and their social media sites, then you may just get a handle on it and spot these signs.

(Note: this is the 2nd OF 5 POSTS on school violence prevention. The next will focus on the attitudes that allow violence to occur)

 

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

Soft Targets. What are they and how do you defend them?

Lately, mainly because of workplace violence (WPV) and terrorist attacks, everyone has heard the term soft targets. And usually it is referred to when talking about a school of any kind through college, or a shopping mall. But with the explosion of soft targets being hit in the United States, not to mention the world, it may be worth knowing the innumerable locations that can be considered a soft target.

The first thing to address is what is a soft target? That is the easiest thing to tell you in this post. A soft target is one that is lightly, if at all, secured, defended if you wish, with massive amounts of people gathering in one place. Additionally, these massive amounts of people can be easily herded to a kill zone by 1 or more individuals.

Schools. For the most part in most places across the country, schools, of all types, are gun free zones. This makes them a pretty safe soft target for someone wishing to hurt a large amount of people in a short period of time & in a place where they are trapped. And what gets more headlines and free publicity for their group, than a school full of dead & wounded kids?

Shopping Malls. Again, most shopping malls have policies that prohibit firearms in the mall itself. They have hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands, think Mall of America, of people at any one time. And with all respect to the security staff, who is handicapped by management, are trained to do little more than direct someone to the right store.

Standalone retail stores. The same thing here as shopping malls although their policies against firearms is probably less stringent than a mall. They also have few if any security personnel, and loss prevention is an entirely different animal. And for the most part I’m talking about big box stores here I used to work LP for a couple of them.

          Stadiums & Concert halls. Whether it is for a sporting event or concerts it all adds up to the same thing. Metal detectors, bag checks, security officers, police departments. They are still geared towards rowdy fans, look at videos of Oakland Raiders or Cleveland Browns fans who may be drunk, not a terrorism incident. Remember the concert hall in Paris in 2015 not to mention the soccer stadium in the same incident?

Office or service businesses. Yes these businesses can be targeted as a  soft target. Mainly because again large groups of people in a confined space and little if any security around. This would apply to large office complexes or office buildings that have thousands of employees and offices that are interconnected. Think of One World Trade Center Plaza or one of the towering office buildings in your area.

Nightclubs & bars. Like Pulse in Orlando on June 12, 2016, they had an armed off-duty police officer at the front door. It didn’t stop the radical Islamist from killing & wounding more than 100 people. Most of these establishments have a rule against firearms but…are you going to wand and frisk everyone who comes in?

Hospitals. They are supposed to be open, warm, inviting, compassionate places to heal. But few have monitoring devices or officers trained to spot hidden firearms. And when they are in a gang area…

  Governmental facilities. You may think that government facilities are secure from attack, but they are not. Many offices have a security officer and a metal detector. But what good would that do if an upset customer walked in with an AR-15 or AK- 47? Having performed security for a county building when I was with First Response, Inc. of Mission, KS. I can guarantee you it is too easy in most respects.

Being realistic against the terrorism threat we have in this country and around the world, the above listed places are unsecured and will continue to be so. And this despite added security measures. Because of the reasons I listed above they are vulnerable and you can’t stop someone from doing harm in these places and the terrorists know that.

The only way to prevent this type of attack is turn the places into gulags or prisons on the moon. And with the American public accustomed to going where we want, when we want, and how we want this is not realistic either. And then you have to look at financial concerns and perception.

Financial concerns are the reason that most of these places have little if any security. A good security officer will cost you upwards of $70,000 per year, for an armed officer 56 hours a week. Metal detectors are in the 6 digits. Other security measures will add many more thousands.

And perceptions? These places will increase security for a period of months and then the public will get tired of it and it’ll stop, just like after 9/11. We have a very short memory in this country and as we get back into the school year all will be forgotten and forgiven because we forgot. And if we forget about it, did it ever really happen? Only the survivors will remember.

 

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 July

Selbyville, DE. July 3                        0

Phoenix, AZ. July 7                          2w

Dallas, TX. July 7                                6d       9w

Bristol, TN. July 8                              1d       4w

Ballwin, MO. July 8                                      1w

Baton Rouge, LA. July 9                 0

St. Joseph, MI. July 11                    3d       2w

Phoenix, AZ. July 12                        0

Denton, TX. July 13                                      2w

Las Vegas, NV. July 15                              1w

Milwaukee, Wi. July 17                  1d       1w

Baton Rouge, LA. July 17                4d       7w

Phoenix, AZ. July 18                        1d

Wilkes-Barre, PA. July 19              2d

New York, NY. July 20                     0

Ft. Myers,FL. July 25                       2d          17w

Scottsdale, AZ. July 27                    1d

San Diego, CA. July 28                    1d          2w

Scottsdale, AZ. July 29                    0

Indianapolis, IN.                                           1w

Austin, TX. July 31                            1d          3w

July:  21 Incidents   23 Dead  50 Wounded

 

Year-to-Date incidents: 174  Arizona: 59

96 Dead   194 wounded