Showing posts with label Law Enforcement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Law Enforcement. Show all posts

Monday, September 2, 2019

OPINION: The Problem With The Questions We Ask After Every Active Shooter Incident

Another active shooter and I feel like I'm having the same discussions over and over again. Oh, that's right - because I am. In the course of each shooting, a variety of reactions happen. Some of them are helpful to constructive discourse and some are not. Let's list some of my least favorite reactions and why:
  • "We need to do something, now!" Ugh. I hate "something" for a few reasons. First, "something" is rarely anything specific and is merely a reaction to the status quo. As a security professional who works at mitigating these kinds of threats, I often feel like "something" means "anything" which works contrary to mitigation which does protect us. Finally, "something" is often a veiled attempt at prompting to discuss political solutions which are normally, not multi-pronged nor appreciative or comprehensive of the entirety of the threat. In other words, "something" is almost certainly, a "nothing"-burger.
  • "Why can't we do what XYZ European country does with guns?" Well, for one, we're not XYZ and while they may have had a problem with gun violence, their causality is likely different than ours. XYZ also does not have our proliferation problem. Guns in the United States are everywhere and the means to manufacture and supply them is not difficult. The science to make firearms and their ammunition is not difficult nor is it restricted. We banned machine guns and someone made "bump guns". Our supply chain with guns is likely different than XYZ as well. In XYZ, the government had a monopoly on firearms but in the US, the citizenry has a monopoly on firearms with zero demand diminished.
  • "It's so simple to solve this." Nope. Not quite as simple as you think. First, taking care of the tool does NOTHING to fix what drives people to murder. In fact, the demand for the tool will likely increase. You won't like where mass murderers go for alternatives either. Also, see what I said about proliferation in #2. Legislating your way out of this gets even tougher because America isn't as monolithic as people on social media would like us to believe which means the political landscape in this country is also more diverse and obfuscated than we appreciate.

    This thinking also blinds us to unintended, collateral damage. For example, modern gun control was done as a means to restrict gun possession by extremist groups. As the laws took shape, over the decades, these laws were meant to further limit access to firearms by convicted felons who may have been involved in ongoing criminal behavior. Their access to firearms would only mean further violence. With crime becoming sensationalized as an "epidemic" almost daily by the media and politicians, a "war on crime" was waged and more laws and police officers were ordered to the streets. These laws incentivized police departments to make more contacts with potential criminals or those who they suspected were criminals. How? Every good war needs soldiers and you can't recruit soldiers without a war. More contacts with an armed public meant lower crime rates. It also meant more police officers involved in more contacts. The problem isn't that contacts were happening but they were disproportionately happening with demographics who were often under-represented and owned far less guns than the majority demographic. I don't have to tell you the rest, do I?
  • "Why won't they release the shooter's name?" Glad you asked. It could be for a few really good reasons.
    • The investigation is still ongoing and releasing the name too soon could reveal a great deal to potential co-conspirators.
    • The shooter may belong to a demographic who could suffer collateral damage from vigilantes seeking revenge in a hostile socioeconomic climate.
    • They're following established FBI and scholarly recommendations to not give the shooter any undue notoriety. Why? The police could be concerned about copycats and the potential for harmful distractions to their case.
        • "The hallmark of contagion is seeing events unusually bunched together in time. The details of our analysis, where we fit a mathematical model of contagion to the data to quantify the level of contagion, are quite technical. But really, what it essentially amounts to is seeing if there are unusual groupings of events. In mass killings (four or more people killed), where the tragedies usually get national or international media attention, we saw significant evidence of this kind of unusual bunching. In mass shootings — with less than four people killed, but at least three people shot — we didn't see any evidence of unusual bunching. Interestingly, those events are so common in the U.S., happening once every few days, that they don't even make it past the local news. Because we saw evidence of contagion in high-profile events, and no evidence of contagion in events that mostly just got local news, we hypothesize that media attention may be the driver of the patterns we see. This kind of contagion has been suspected for a long time; our study is the first to quantify it."  
      Various pictures of Christchurch shooter's firearms used in shooting

      • The contagion theory looks especially prescient when we look at the Christchurch shooting where the shooter wrote the names of various other shooters on his weapons he used during the shooting and wrote in his manifesto how they motivated him. How many shooters have mentioned or idolized other mass shooters? How many shooters are glorified and celebrated on various forums where they congregate? Don't we see the same with terrorist groups like ISIS? How many "soldiers of the Islamic State" were "inspired" by the acts of other "soldiers"? I'm not saying these events were caused by other shooters going first but for many shooters, I'm certain it showed how it could be done with minimal effort and little exposure during the planning and execution phase. As I always caution, "the secret sauce is out in the wild."

        What about our own history with a public mob mentality towards "give us a name"?

          A man lynched from a tree. (Library of Congress; 1925)
The simple and painful truth is we may never see the end of mass violence in the United States. That doesn't mean workable and viable solutions are not probable. I believe they are. However; as we examine these events, perhaps it's time we ask how much of our reactions have done less to mitigate these threats and do more to provide us "security". The latter is about addressing what makes us "feel" safe versus doing what protect us by critically going over the data, having constructive discourse within the subject matter experts, and determining what are our most viable, sustainable, and effective solutions.

There is one question we should be asking but we don't. Its absence from  the discourse makes me believe we care less about the victims of these crimes and more about the political solutions we can employ. Few people are asking "why" because they confuse methodology with motive. The problem shouldn't be how these murders are committed but why. Until we ask that question, we'll continue to have discourse which does little except provide cover for murderers and aid and abet political ambitions counter-intuitive to our collective survival.

    Saturday, August 24, 2019

    OPINION: Isn't It About Time Security Gets Its Own Crowd Mitigation Laws?

    If I were the seriously academic type, I'm quite certain there would be a white paper I could write on how many lives the fire service saves by having cities empowering the fire marshal to enforce fire codes. Seriously, when you sit back and examine the impact fire codes have had in either showing how dangerous crowds can be and how mitigating their growth in dense packs reduces casualties in fire events, it's truly amazing at how well they work in both regards. If people die in a crowded nightclub because of a fire, no one writes a think-piece on what drove the fire or the firestarter. No one even contemplates if we need stricter anti-fire laws. Nope. Within a few seconds of reading there was a fire at a crowded nightclub, we automatically deduce a large amount of the carnage was because the club was too densely packed. What if after every active shooter incident we did the same?

    Imagine a set of laws structured around mitigating mass casualties during active shooter events in target-rich environments. At the heart of how we effectively deal with these incidents is how we deal with the crowds. You've heard me say this before but I believe the largest contributor to target selection and engagement is the crowd. With security, there's a misguided public perception businesses will act in the best interests of life safety and business owners and operators will take threat mitigation seriously. For those of us in security, we know this is a daily battle - one in which we suffer countless deaths for. In a world where businesses are rewarded by showcasing demand and not minimizing their risk caused by demand, motivation to encourage, grow, and develop further crowds often outweighs those associated risks. What we require is a set of codes which the authorities can enforce to make those risks unacceptable without effective mitigation.

    What would my proposed "codes" look like? As is said in the military, it's all METT-TC or "situation-dependent". That said, here's a very rough idea of what I envision:
    • Utilize the same formula and science, the fire service uses in determining acceptable crowd sizes in densely packed areas. This encompasses looking at egress points, potential points of origin, probable incident path, time to egress, and potential secondary hazards.
    • Make it mandatory businesses have a minimum number of egress points solely for active shooters. The egress points should be fully expansive and allow for fluidity in crowd movement. There should be more than one way out of an area.
    • Ensure employees have a means of ensuring those egress points remain available and unencumbered.
    • Fire exits can be utilized for egress but should not be the sole means. Fire and security/LE will likely have different concerns about crowds and their movements.
    • Egress should be marked and illuminated. Egress from fire emergency exits should also be alarmed and enunciate at a fire and police dispatch center.
    • Every venue where crowds are a consideration and are likely targets of active shooters should have "blue boxes" which would contain a button like fire call boxes. These boxes would sound an immediate alarm with a "tactical response required" notification to the local police.
    • Schools and daycare centers should rehearse mandatory crowd mitigation drills. School event planners should attend a mandatory crowd mitigation course which addresses basic event security guidelines to be implemented. Failure to follow the guidelines should be considered violations of the law. Exceptions can be addressed by through an SRO and approved by a department chief.
    • All on-duty security personnel should attend a mandatory course on behavior detection and tactical response. Failure to pass the initial and follow-up training should result in a mandatory suspension of their security license. Posting unlicensed and untrained personnel should be considered a violation of law.
    • Stadiums and large scale event security should be required to do annual mass casualty event drills. Active shooters should be addressed in those scenarios.
    • Businesses must have a crowd mitigation plan filed with their local police department.
    • No-notice inspections by the police should be done semi-annually. Inspection failures should be considered for a mandatory 30-day operations suspension, depending on the nature of violation. Serious violations should constitute permanent operations termination.
    I know. I know. Too harsh? Perhaps, but I think this is the shot in the butt we all need as practitioners and business owners. These events happen in places we're supposed to be protecting. Yet, everyone pretends like they won't see these incidents, despite evidence which says we don't have a clue as to when, where, or even how they could occur. What I'm asking for takes minimal effort and is ever-evolving as the threat also changes. That's what makes it such a great idea, to be quite honest.

    Friday, December 9, 2016

    And You Thought You Saw The Last of The Terminator. He's Back - As A SWAT-Bot!

    So, I've been watching Westworld and it seems like killer robots are becoming a thing again. There are some really cool things with the bot featured in this slick ad:
    • It's seemingly quiet. For obvious reasons.
    • They went the fashionable "combat black" look. It's mandatory for anything being called "covert" these days. (snark)
    • It has loads of cameras. One of the primary purposes of the bot is to give human operators tactical situational awareness. The field of view seems to be okay and has what appears to be some PTZ stuff going on, though the cameras appear to be very stationary. If it relies on the vehicle to move the camera, then I'm curious whether that compromises noise discipline.
    • It comes with a Glock. Yeah. It's "G'd up from da floor up". My bad - that's street vernacular for "It has a working gun that can kill people". That said, I'm curious if the vehicle has a stabilizer to compensate for recoil. Also, where does the "brass" go? Surely, it's not optimal to have it eject in a way that it could lodge between the gun and the bot chassis.
    My overall complaints about the bot:
    • It looks great in a video which means it will perform like crap once it gets deployed.
    • I need to see more Army-proofing. Ahem! How long before crazy G.I.s break it on its first run? Trust me - you need to be asking this question.
    • Humans have been doing a bang-up job of clearing rooms thus far without bots. Not sure how this helps in real world tactical environments. Yeah, shooters may not have to get too close to make the hard shots but....What happens when your suspect sees this thing and decides you're trying to make entry and kills hostages preemptively before you do?
    • Finally, I worry about the trial and error part of figuring out its limitations in the real world. An EOD bot is easy to square away because testing and training go hand-in-hand especially in a semi-controlled environment. This bot's armament would need to be tested along with its operators under conditions that mirror the real world both in risk and realism. In other words, let's see it clear a "trap house" with a barricaded homicidal subject armed with an AK-47 and has kids as potential hostages. We tend to be very "meh" about collateral damage (civilian deaths) in combat zones during drone strikes - I have a feeling we'd feel differently about a bot who killed a hostage due to operator error or mechanical failure. Thankfully, it's under human-control. Imagine what it can do if given analytics.

    Extra! Extra! Read all about it! RNC After Action Reports!!

    2016 was a huge year in security especially in light of our recent presidential elections. The election is always a big security event but unlike previous elections, the last few years have seen the country becoming seemingly more divided and somewhat consumed with protest activities. Additionally, cities that hosted political conventions had to have significant mitigation measures in place. A piece of public records information I'm always very curious about are the after-action reports of cities who have to host these events.

    A fellow MuckRock user, Melissa Hill requested the after action reports from from several law enforcement agencies. She's gotten quite a few and I suspect others are forthcoming. I'll post more as they become available and I sift through the chaff.

    Ohio Highway Patrol

    Wisconsin State Patrol

    Florida Highway Patrol After Action Report

    City of Cleveland's Information Releases to the Public and Media

    NOTE: I decided to add this, even though it's not an AAR. Still worth a look to get a scope of the various organizations which supported the security mission at the convention.

    DoD-NORTHCOM Defense Support of Civil Authorities Republican National Convention 2016 Presentation

    Thursday, December 8, 2016

    2016 - The year of the creepy dudes in clown costumes

    Other than the election that was "interesting", 2016 had some very memorable moments. One of those "moments" was the "clown scare". For a few months, the entire country seemed to be besieged by reports of creepy dudes in clown costumes. If you're not familiar with American customs, I'd like to be the first to inform you that many Americans are terrified of clowns. Some of these sightings were of clowns in the woods who were trying to entice children to go into the woods with them. Yeah. I told you - creepy. As time wore on, it became apparent to the American people many of the sightings were the result of false reports, hoaxes, and the rare creepy dude in a clown costume. Thanks to the awesomeness of MuckRock we have a real live police report of such an incident. Have a look - if you dare!

    Saturday, November 19, 2016

    The Week's Hilarious Law Enforcement-Related Tweet

    You may have noticed that I'm pretty heavy into sarcasm. While going through Twitter, I came across this gem of hilarity. Enjoy! I did.

    UPDATE: New FOIA Requests Are Updated!!!

    Sooo, I'm kind of back on my Freedom of Information Act "grind". This time, I've grown curious about how Reedy Creek Improvement District aka Disney World interacts with law enforcement. I've heard various reports that most law enforcement-related dispatches are relayed through Florida Highway Patrol and Orange County. I'm less curious about shoplifting dispatches (I'm surely, mostly klepto-tourists seeking crimes of opportunity) and more curious about the more serious incidents that either go reported in the media or that don't.

    Here are snippets of the new requests so far:

    Title of Request
    Date Submitted
    Orange County Sheriff’s Office
    Reedy Creek Improvement District

    I'll keep you posted should something more concrete develop. The plan is to write a piece on what I find in the FOIA documents to give more a robust picture of Disney's security via publicly available information. If anything, I'm sure there will be a number of interesting data points to be discussed in the replies.
    As always, the best place to keep up-to-date on any FOIA requests I do is here or the link above. Also, Muckrock is an AWESOME place to discover not just my requests but other people's as well. If you see anything noteworthy in my requests, please feel free to reach me via the "Contact Me" link above.

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Insight: How The Day I Almost Shot Someone Is Shaping Me As A Security Practitioner

    Trucks go through the Mobile Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System at Camp Navistar, Kuwait. (Source: US Army)

    What I’m about to write is something I share no glory writing. In fact, what I’m about to tell you is something few people have heard me tell and no one until now understands why it’s such an important experience in my life.

    Let me begin by going over briefly my military background up until this experience. I joined the Air Force in 2000 and enlisted in a category known as “open general”. I qualified for any job I wanted but I only desired to be a fireman. Unfortunately, I wasn’t picked for that assignment. I was selected for a career-field in the Air Force known as Security Forces (SF). Basically, I was the classic military policeman in my early years – I checked IDs at the gate, responded to various law enforcement calls for service, emergency response, base security, etc. In 2002, I was deployed to Kuwait for the first time. It was an interesting and perilous time to be there. We’d been deployed to provide air base defense, in case the Iraqis wanted to start the war before we did. Essentially, I protected planes, pilots, and maintainers so our aircraft could kill Sadaam and his men. Pretty cool, huh? Not really. It was boring with some excitement in between. However, my second deployment was somewhat more perilous not because of Sadaam but from insurgents in Iraq and is the setting of the experience I want to talk about.

    In most cases, when I deployed in SF, I and the folks I was with were euphemistically called “REMFs”. Pardon the crassness of the translation – rear echelon moth-*insert bad words*. In other words, while everyone else fought the war in Iraq, my unit was in the relative safety of the “rear”. We were trained to expect bad guys at every turn but the sad reality is very few times did the bad guys show up to engage us.

    On this second deployment, our mission was somewhat ambiguous. We’d deployed to support air base defense missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom in whatever way the Air Force saw fit. If you know military deployments, you know what that means – no one knew what to do with us and so we were wrought to be abused and we were. One assignment we were given was to inspect vehicles coming into and out of Kuwait and Iraq on the Kuwaiti side of the border.

    One fateful day, my lieutenant grabbed a group of us and ordered us to help a returning Army convoy get through a Kuwaiti roadway. We were each placed at various intersections, mostly by ourselves. Yeah. I know. Translation: we were armed crossing guards for big trucks coming home after being blown up. The job sucked as much as it sounds. As I stood in the middle of a Kuwaiti road contemplating what I had done to deserve this ungodly punishment, an Army officer came to my position and shouted “Make sure NO ONE comes through this area. NO ONE! Have you done this before?” I answered “Not quite.” I was lying. I had never stood in the middle of a road in another country to protect a bunch of trucks from getting T-boned by vehicles they could have run over and not have noticed. He shouted back, “Look, if you see a car, start putting your hand in the air and shouting for them to stop. By the way, hold your fingers pursed together and shout (insert Arabic word for “stop”).” Sounds like a plan. I do what he says and the cars will stop. Yeah. Not quite.

    An hour passed and no vehicles. As soon as I grabbed my radio to check on the status of the convoy, I saw it – a vehicle I’ll never forget for as long as I live. It was a brown Mercedes S-class sedan. It was a few hundred feet away. I immediately put my hands in the air and demanded the vehicle stop. I shout and it keeps coming. I do the thing the officer told me and still it won’t stop. The distance closes by the second. Time seems to be creeping slower as nervousness sets in. What do I do if he won’t stop? The other guys are God-knows-where and my battery is about dead.Every cop in the world has been trained to recognize the car as a lethal weapon when it’s coming at you with no apparent attempt to stop. At some point, I realize the M-4 I’m carrying needs to come up and pointed towards the vehicle. Remember, this takes seconds. I pull the charging handle and let the round chamber to make the weapon ready to fire. I scream, “Stop! STOP! STOP!” The vehicle stops five feet from me. I’m huffing and puffing. I hear the ebb of trucks – the convoy has just gone passed. The tunnel vision I had at the onset left and there I was eyeball-to-eyeball with the vehicle and its occupants – a family. I don’t know if it was language, culture, or poor vision but for whatever I reason I hesitated and saved a family’s life and the convoy, in some weird way.

    Here’s where it gets awkward. Over the years since then, few days go by where I don’t think about that family. I can see the husband, his wife, and children. I can see the frightened looks of the children. I remember the kafiyeh the husband wore and the piercing glance his wife gave him from her hijab as he suddenly stopped. I can hear the tires squeal. I remember the aroma of the diesel trucks as they passed me by. Most importantly, I remember my hesitation. I could have killed them. Why did I hesitate? When it matters will hesitate or react? Am I the warrior I always envisioned I’d be? Some days, these things are easier to answer than others.
    Since that incident, several years later, I went on another deployment as a REMF and served two tours in Korea. I also worked as an armed community based security patrol officer in some of Tampa’s worst housing areas. Each job I’ve had since that day, I’ve encountered situations where that day was in the back of my mind. Admittedly, I’ve never had to raise my weapon in anger since then.
    So here’s what I’ve learned since then and how I think my experience can help others in security:
    1. No matter the gig, you should ALWAYS expect the bad guy to show up. It never fails. You’re told the job is easy. The threat is nonexistent. You feel safe. Then, BAM! The bad guy shows up. What do you do? Do you hesitate to respond? It’s not an easy question to answer but one you need to ask yourself daily. Don’t worry. You know the answer. We all do.
    2. Have confidence in your ability to defeat the bad guy. During this deployment, many of us had derided the training we’d received to prepare for this deployment. None of us felt like we could do much against the bad guys with the training being as ambiguous as the training and the rules of engagement being equally confusing. Believe it or not, the psychology behind self-induced confusion and “fog of war” diminishes a great deal of confidence. Whatever you do to get ready for these situations, make sure it’s not only effective at mitigation through mechanics but gives you the confidence needed to make difficult decisions in a variety of scenarios.
    3. Just because you don’t fire a gun in combat doesn’t mean there aren’t decisions you won’t wrestle with. Seriously, I didn’t kill anyone but the idea that I could have killed an “innocent” has followed me throughout my life. It doesn’t make me some sort of “seasoned vet” or anything. However, the questions I asked immediately afterwards, still remain.
    4. There’s nothing wrong with hesitating when you can. Had I not waited, I could have killed that family or at the very least, created a major issue for everyone. Remember, Kuwait was an ally. I’d be lying if I told you I was thinking of the alliance. Sometimes, in security, we respond to situations not based on what we see or hear but what our rules of engagement allow us to get away with in the situation. I could have done far more damage, had I dealt with this differently. Don’t take too long to make up your mind but make sure you’re decisive and situationally aware.
    I admit I could have done a lot of things differently that day. I could have insisted on better ROEs. I could have asked for another person to be with me. I could have made up my mind earlier what my “red line” was going to be. None of this would have meant I would have shot anyone but I can’t help but think I should have reacted sooner and more decisively. But you know what? The simple truth is – I did everything right.

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    The GateShack - Episode 04 - Ferguson - Lessons Learned

    Show Notes:
    First, I’d like to extend an apology for the previous episode’s audio issues. I was attempting something new while preparing the podcast and it backfired on me. For that, I apologize and I appear to have the sound sorted out.
    During today’s podcast, I wanted to continue our discussion on Ferguson with some of the lessons we’ve learned since August. I focus a lot on some of the mistakes made by Ferguson PD during the early days of the protests. Some of those mistakes are still being made and they offer insight into how we, as security and law enforcement officers, can do better when responding to civil disturbances. Feel free to leave a comment on Twitter using the hashtag #FergusonLessons or leaving a comment below.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    Riots: The Physical Security Considerations

    LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 08: A rioter throws a rock at riot police in Clarence Road in Hackney on August 8, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

    Last night, riots erupted all over Ferguson, MO after the grand jury announced they would be declining to indict Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. This post isNOT about that decision or the investigation itself. My opinions on that will remain out of the public sphere. However, I would like to discuss the unique physical security considerations mass protests and riots present for security practitioners. I’d like to discuss what those challenges are and how we can counter the physical attacks against assets during these events.
    1. Protests are extremely dynamic and what looks peaceful five minutes from now could be a full-blown riot the next. People assume they can do a lot of things they simply can’t. Predicting the actions of hundreds of people and whether they view your assets as a legitimate target is one of them. This is almost impossible to do. So don’t. Just err on the side of caution and just assume your assets are.
      Social media and the news can lull practitioners into believing the intelligence they’re receiving about the threat is accurate. In many cases, it can be. However, you should never use anyone else other than yourself to determine how a crowd will behave and view your assets.
    2. Agitators carry an assortment of tools to target your assets. Just because you’re seeing rocks and water bottles being thrown now does not mean you’ll only see that as a weapon against your assets. They may use chainsaws, bats, pipes, bricks, Molotov cocktails, guns, etc. against you and your assets. Consider the full gambit of tools they will have access to, factor in the time they have had to pre-stage gear, and experience. Make sure your preparations are comparable for probable threats.
    3. The people protesting aren’t always your biggest threats – they can also be your savior. In many cases, as we saw in August and last night, bystanders and peaceful protesters stood up to defend local businesses in Ferguson. Most of those storefronts were businesses who had made in-roads with protesters beforehand. Also, the peaceful protesters realized their protest was being hijacked by anarchists and thus, losing the narrative. Because of this, many protesters actively protected storefronts. You should make every effort to reach out to protesters beforehand. In some cases, I would consider offering a reward for any protester caught seeing defending your assets.
    4. Some storefronts are targeted not because of who they are but for what they have inside. Last night, I advised any pawnshop owner to remove all weapons from their locations. Why? Because most physical security measures used to defeat thieves is usually meant for one or two persons attempting the threat and reliable police response. As last night proved, the police will be to busy with other response to ensure adequate protection to those stores. If you can’t move the guns, then remove their firing pins and ammunition immediately. If you have some clue that rioting could occur, you owe it to yourself and the community you service to at least remove the weapons or firing pins until you know for sure the threat is gone.
    5. Consider how we’re trained as professionals to protect assets in your riot contingency. We detect, deter, delay, and if necessary, stop the threat. Are the measures you’re implementing do that? Can they do that with a crowd amassing your facility? If not, can you afford the risk of failure?
    Here are some measures you should think about about implementing, in my opinion:
    • Remove any weapons or explosive materials from stores.
    • Shutdown gas station pumps.
    • Consider constructing steel shutters or a roll cage around your storefront. The shutters and roll cage should be secured with a heavy-duty lock with a buried shackle to prevent cutting it or using a shim to pick it.
    • Install heavy-duty glass or board windows from the inside and outside.
    • Remove cars from parking lots to other secure areas. If this is not possible, consider erecting a larger fence where the top is bent facing towards the adversary. This configuration is used in prisons to prevent scaling which is difficult to do for most people. A ladder is required in most cases. Also, remove those assets closest to the fence.
    • Conduct counter-surveillance daily before the protest is said to occur. Be on the lookout for any suspicious behavior. Have you noticed new people around your stores you haven’t seen before? How much loitering occurs and is any of it out of the ordinary? Are people asking strange questions about when you typically shutdown for the day or when do you “really lock the doors”? Have your loss prevention guys noticed any increased observance of camera locations?
    • Barriers.  Use them. I can’t say this enough. When I was a young Airman, barriers were a part of my everyday life. We used them a lot for increased threat mitigation, civil disturbance, crowd control, and even presidential visits. My preference is for the plastic jersey barriers to be filled with water or sand. Water should be used in winter because it’s more likely to freeze than like, unlike in summer where it tends to so a lot. Jersey barriers, when not filled, are highly mobile and allow the practitioner flexibility in how, when, and where they can be deployed. In many cases, a pick-up and a few able-bodied people is all you need to move them, where concrete and sandbags require forklifts and more bodies.
    • Fences. Put them up. You should make every effort to ensure protesters will have to struggle to get to your assets. The cheapest and best way to do that is through proper fencing. You should install a fence typically around 10 to 15 feet and weigh whether or not your insurance can handle barbed wire. Another consideration, if you’re using barbed wire, is aesthetics. Can you do business with the barbed wire on the fence? Some customers respond differently to that.
    • Consider guards if you have no other choice. Seriously, don’t hire guards if you don’t need to. Security officers are great at what they do. If the target of the protests is law enforcement, who do you think the rioters will look at as a potential target? Those stores with guards in uniform. Not saying you shouldn’t use guards but understand their risk and that they don’t always lower your threat profile.
    • Don’t get political. Seriously, if you have a Twitter profile for your store and you’re talking about how you hate the protesters all the time, you’re making yourself a larger target. That’s what we call “begging for a fight”. Stop. Instead, talk about how many people in the community you employ, how long you’ve been there, and how the damage impacts you and other businesses. Stay away from any discussions about what is being protested.
    My list here is not all-inclusive. I am sure there are other ideas. Please, submit your ideas below so we can continue the discussion.

    Thursday, October 23, 2014

    OPINION: What The Ottawa Shootings Can Teach Us About Social Media As a News Source

    I have been on social media for a LONG time. In the time that I have been online, I have taken part in real-time discussions and analysis for a variety of events in the security “lane”. I’ve talked about an assortment of events ranging from Dorner to the Ottawa shooting. Each time, I’m astounded by how fast the events that transpire are posted in almost-real-time. The advent of the Internet and the smart phone has made all bystanders on-scene correspondents and social media users like myself the most sought-after “experts”. I argue, therein lies social media’s greatest drawback during these events.
    1. We get stuff wrong a lot. Yesterday’s shooting highlights some of my frustrations with social media as a news sources. On more than one occasion, various sources posted certain information as vetted “facts”. Most of those reports were false and depicted a scene far more chaotic than the one that was occurring. Why? For a lot of reasons – some of which I don’t have enough space in this forum to adequately articulate. Chief among them – confirmation bias. Many of us were simply re-posting information that solely confirmed what we either wanted the scene to be or the headline struck an emotional chord. Worse than that is another reason not related to confirmation bias but perception bias – some people re-posted information because it supported a prejudice or a political ideology.
    2. We ignored the danger of “first reports”. I have but one cardinal rule with social media as a news source remember ALWAYS  “first reports” are wrong. Seriously, the first eyewitness accounts from a major incident will almost surely be wrong. Why? Because eyewitnesses suck. No two people in an attack ever see the same thing and their perceptions will also be markedly different. The folks at the Innocence Project do “yeoman’s work” on this very issue for their clients. I HIGHLY suggest we all read up on their work to understand why we shouldn’t always trust unconfirmed eyewitness reports.
    3. We created confusion in order to stay relevant. That sounds harsh and mean. Hear me out. With some of us having “followers”, during an event like Ottawa or Dorner or Boston, it is very tempting to believe we either need to share information which has already been posted several times over or comment on that information before they can be vetted in order to appear on top of things. Instead, we should wait until the information can be verified and is still relevant to events happening in the present. These events can be confusing and there is no need to add to the chaos and potentially colour the situation in a way that is not accurate. Our time to pontificate on the events can come later.
    4. We confuse hazardous behavior with context. I get it. The bullets are flying and you want the entire world to know. I get it. Your shot could be the one that depicts the essence of the event. I want you to get that shot. I also want you to be safe and not to place first responders in jeopardy. STOP POSTING LOCATIONS OF YOURSELF AND OFFICERS RELATIVE TO THE SHOOTER AND WHAT YOU’RE HEARING VIA POLICE SCANNERS. Guys, I was a 911 dispatcher many moons ago and I’ve worked in a security and law enforcement for over a decade. If there’s one thing I know from my career, law enforcement operations can be extremely difficult for even seasoned pros to decipher and scanners are not always a good place to get an accurate account of what’s happening. A cop responding to a shooting is just a cop responding to a scene. If he hasn’t verified a shooting took place, a shooting hasn’t taken place.
    5. We assumed shooter counts and body counts were accurate. There are few things that can either mellow people out or cause even more chaos on social media than body and shooter counts. During the Ottawa shooting, the number of shooters originally accounted for by social media was up to FIVE with a couple of shooters on roofs. That depicts a much different scene than the one we later found to be true of one shooter who was shot and killed inside a building. Keep in mind, law enforcement would only confirm initially one shooter in the beginning, yet somehow there was five. How did that happen? It happened for all of the reasons I’ve talked about in this post and one that is far more dangerous.
    6. We believed people with “sources close to law enforcement”. Nothing makes me cringe more than hearing “The police confirmed XYZ” from a person on social media only to learn the source cited as “the police” was cited by the media as a “source close to law enforcement”. What does this mean if not “the police”? It simply means two things – either the source is a cop who is giving out information to the press without authorization or it’s someone the media knows is not a cop and your knowledge of that truth could diminish how you view the accuracy of the source. A perfect example of the latter is a cop’s wife or an intern at the police department. They both have access to insider information but neither of them are actually investigating anything. There is also another reality – the “source” could also be made up. No matter how bad the sourcing could be, I grow disheartened more and more as we accept this as a set of reliable information to base opinions and reactions to.
    So what can we do? What advice do I have? I’d been thinking about this all day, when I discovered the tweet below. My suggestion, as I added below, is to – “read and heed”.

    Monday, October 20, 2014

    The “Rules” From 1829 Which NYPD Commish Bratton Carries

    The “Rules” From 1829 Which NYPD Commish Bratton Carries

    In 1829, Sir Robert Peel, upon founding the Metropolitan Police in London (the world’s first recorded organized police force), believed certain principles would guide his department into being professional and accountable. There were various attempts at policing before but none had ventured to be as organized as Peel’s was. While “the Met” is the first organized and officially sanctioned police force in the world, many officers are unaware of who he is or the principles he founded modern policing on. As events continue to occur which cause the public to question the professionalism and accountability of its police officers, I HIGHLY suggest any student of criminal justice and policing read these principles and determine whether their respective police departments still adhere to these principles or if they’re mere guides.
    • Principle 1 – “The basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder.”
    • Principle 2 – “The ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.”
    • Principle 3 – “Police must secure the willing co-operation of the public in voluntary observance of the law to be able to secure and maintain the respect of the public.”
    • Principle 4 – “The degree of co-operation of the public that can be secured diminishes proportionately to the necessity of the use of physical force.”
    • Principle 5 – “Police seek and preserve public favor not by catering to the public opinion but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to the law.”
    • Principle 6 – “Police use physical force to the extent necessary to secure observance of the law or to restore order only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient.”
    • Principle 7 – “Police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public  who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
    • Principle 8 – “Police should always direct their action strictly towards their functions and never appear to usurp the powers of the judiciary.”
    • Principle 9 – “The test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it.”
    Many moons ago, I had a young military police officer tell me, “Staff Sergeant King, we’re cops – NOT customer service!” She was frustrated at other military members who she felt demanded more than what she perceived the job required. I understood her frustration but I also knew the other members were absolutely correct. Police officers may not have clients in the same way their security counterparts do,  but they do “service” a more influential group of people – citizens. Most cops sign up thinking their days and nights will be spent on countless foot-chases and solving major crimes. In fact, while these things do occur, they do not make up the bulk of a cop’s existence. Even in those situations and various “calls for service”, police officers must never forget the public is heavily influenced by how officers treat their requests and how they respond to them.

    Sunday, October 19, 2014


    This has to be the coolest undercover cop/narc I’ve ever seen in my life.


    From the video’s description on
    A law enforcement training film on how to safely and efficiently arrest criminals. Includes dramatizations of what happens to unwitting officers.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2014

    REPORT: Police Under Attack – The Police Foundation Review of the Christopher Dorner Incident

    When I mention the name, Christopher Dorner, among my friends in law enforcement, the mood changes dramatically. I know I will never forget the day he attacked his fellow officers and their families. I have spoken at great length here about Dorner, so I won’t waste more of your time talking about him. However, I did find the following report published by The Police Foundation. If that name sounds familiar, it should. These were the folks behind the Kansas City Police Patrol Experiment. Recently, the published this report detailing a lot what happened during Dorner’s attacks. For civilians, it’s an after-action report of sorts. I HIGHLY recommend reading it.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    Kenya Mall Shooting - Why It Went All Wrong & What We Can Do To Be Better

    Yesterday, the New York City Police Department released a report from its SHIELD initiative about the Kenya mall shooting/terrorist attack. It was a pretty damning report to say the least. Before we talk about the report, let's talk about SHIELD is and why that's important to understand in the context of this report. SHIELD is the NYPD's homegrown information-sharing component with private sector security. It provides analysis on current and future threats. I've previously read some of SHIELD's reports. Some were good and some were typical of fusion center reports - some meat and some potatoes but not a full meal. This report was driven, in part, to go over what NYPD and private security could learn about what happened in Nairobi. There was plenty.

    There were some startling revelations:
    1. Kenyan police were VASTLY outgunned. The report states, "The typical Uniformed Kenyan Police Officer is not as well equipped as their western counterparts, typically only carrying a long gun, most commonly an AK-47 style rifle with a folding stock, loaded with a single 30 round magazine. They do not carry handguns, wear body armor, gun belts or have portable radios to communicate." Each of the terrorist were carrying 250 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition. Lack of body armor and radios to communicate resulted in fratricide. More on that later.
    2. Responding plainclothes officers were also outgunned and had no visible identification. Remember what I said about fratricide? From the report: "Very few of any of the plainclothes law enforcement first responders displayed any visible law enforcement identification such as a badge, arm band, ID card or  a raid jacket, making identification as “friend or foe” extremely difficult for other armed first responders."
    3. Realizing the police were outgunned, Kenya made the incident response a military matter. That's as bad as it sounds. The report says, "Kenyan government officials decide to transfer the handling of this incident from the police to the military. A squad of Kenya Defense Forces KDF soldiers enters the mall and shortly afterwards, in a case of mistaken identity, the troops fired on the GSU-RC Tactical Team.They kill one police officer and wounding the tactical team commander. In the ensuing confusion both the police and military personnel pull out of the mall to tend to the casualties and re-group."
    4. Responding military forces used an RPG-7 as a room clearing tool. I kid you not. And the destruction was insane. "It is reported that at some point during the day the Kenya Defense Forces decided to fire a high explosive anti-tank rocket (possibly a RPG-7 or an 84mm Recoilless Rifle) as part of their operation to neutralize the terrorists in the Nakumatt Super Market.The end result of this operation was a large fire and the partial collapse of the rear rooftop parking lot and two floors within the Nakumatt Super Market into the basement parking."
    5. It is possible the terrorists escaped in part because the Kenyan security forces failed to secure a perimeter. It is rather elementary for the very first thing Western police do in these scenarios is to lock down the perimeter. No one comes in or out unless they can be positively identified as a "friendly". This credentialing occurs by checking IDs and only first admitting law enforcement and first responders to exit upon verification.
    6. The mall employed unarmed officers who performed unsatisfactory "wand searches". This is irritating to say the least. Why? Unarmed officers are appropriate for certain environments and are the way to go in most environments. However, in high value targets, such as mass gathering locations in places like Kenya, I would have used an armed component. Armed officers are not only armed but can be equipped with radios and are usually uniformed. This makes identifying them for law enforcement somewhat easier. Also, armed officers can do things unarmed officers can't due to safety concerns such as locking down perimeters and evacuating victims.
    7. Wand searches are weak. I dislike them with a passion. Why? Officers get tricked into believing a search was "good" because the wand didn't annunciate. This is all kinds of bad. A search should be thorough in high value targets. If you're going to employ officers and have them search, have them be thorough and do it without a wand. I would use the wand only in environments where I had other search mitigators in place such as backscatters or X-ray search devices.

    So what does this attack teach us in the West?
    1. The desire of terrorist groups to attack mass gathering locations is still very alive.
    2. Places like malls should consider Kenya to be a warning. If you're in mall security, I highly suggest going over your active shooter plan and rehearsing it on a fairly regular basis with local police departments and simulated shooters. In these exercise, test not just your ability to minimize casualties but to also test your security apparatus under stress. This is best accomplished by "killing" responders, taking hostages, attempting escape, and causing confusion among responders. Get your people used to chaos in these scenarios.
    3. Never do wand searches at high value targets and test your people regularly. I've gone over why I think wand searches are bad. So let's examine why you should test and train your searchers regularly. Searching is one of the most important yet often neglected security components. We usually pick rookies and the "lowest common denominator" to do this function because it's "easy". Doing good and thorough searches that you can go to sleep easy with at night are not easy. Searchers should be trained on subject "tells", physical characteristics of forbidden items by touch, sound, smell, and sight, the tools they can use to do searches better, etc. They should also be regularly "red-teamed" which is to say you should have a non-attributable person walk through security and see what they can get through. When they're done, they should report to management their findings.

      Here's a video I did on how I would search bags:

    4. CCTV and analytics are EXTREMELY important to an active shooter scenario. There are several takeaways from what we learned about CCTV and the lack of analytics in Nairobi. First, CCTV coverage was spotty in some areas. Also, the CCTV coverage was easily identified and avoided by the terrorists. We also know while they had remote viewing capability, it was five miles away and more than likely not cross-fed into the police. While a CCTV monitor can't identify every threat, video analytics can alert them to suspicious activity. At the very least, consider it an option.
    5. Garages and parking lots should be regularly patrolled. While there was a guard posted at the entrance of the garage, had a response element been closer by, they could have locked the exterior doors to the mall.
    6. Train your employees on how to sound the alarm and IMMEDIATELY lock down their storefronts and secure customers. I would consider including them as a part of your active shooter training as well. Make that mandatory training for all storefront management and their trusted employees. I would include it in a leasing agreement if I had to.
    7. Have a HIGHLY accessible public address system to sound the alarm.
    8. Train local non-law enforcement responders on the need to "shoot, move, and communicate". Seriously, I can't stress this enough. There is a huge debate in the US surrounding concealed carry permit holders as responders. I'm okay with them responding, though I prefer they receive some training on  the need to identify themselves to law enforcement prior to responding via a phone call if time and circumstance permit.
    9. Equip every security person and law enforcement officer with a radio.  If you want to avoid wasting your time clearing rooms that have already been cleared or fratricide, then you HAVE TO equip your responders with radios and share your frequencies with them.
    10. Train your personnel on reporting formats like SALUTE. We've covered this before so I won't bore you with the details.
    11. Train your security management personnel on casualty collection points, IED mitigation, cordons, perimeter searches, and periodic vulnerability assessments. These things can't be overstated in training. Trust me. You'll thank me for this later.

    Wednesday, October 23, 2013

    What's The Nature of Your Emergency?

    These are words often spoken by dispatchers and those working in emergency response centers throughout the world. They are the first words spoken and often lead to some of the most confusing and panic-driven conversations. People who have something to report, whether it be suspicious or an actual emergency, report as if the person on the other line is there with them. The descriptions of the situation are often muddled, suspect descriptions are either ignored or extremely vague, and other information is untold or dragged out by the dispatcher from the caller. So how do we fix this?

    The problem is not the caller but how we cultivate information from them. We assume, wrongly, they understand what it is we need or that any information is good information. Both assumptions are dead wrong. Don't fall into this trap. People don't know what emergency dispatch or law enforcement truly need. They assume you will ask all of the relevant questions from the "fog of war". Luckily, we do - sometimes. So how do we fix it? We start by giving them the format that will deliver the best results for us and get the information from them as quickly as possible so we can notify the appropriate personnel.

    A format that I'm very familiar with and I used extensively in the military was called S.A.L.U.T.E.
    1. Size:  How many people do you see? How big is the object? How many gunshots did you hear?
    2. Activity:  What are they doing? Is he shooting at you? What did he say?
    3. Location:  Where are they? Where did they go? Where are you? Where did the vehicle come from? Where did you see that? Where is the object?
    4. Uniform:  What color were his clothes? What kind of clothes was she wearing? What color was the vehicle? What was the make and model?
    5. Time: When did this happen? When was the last time you heard from him? What time did the letter say the explosion would happen?
    6. Equipment:  What kind of gun did he have? Was the knife serrated? Did you see a rocket launcher? Did you see them carrying anything else?
    This is all great information that when given to dispatchers aids in faster information flow which means faster mitigation/response times. I recommend agencies, if they haven't already, have their organizations begin indoctrinating their communities on the specific formatting you need. Trust me, as a former dispatcher and emergency operations center controller, I can tell you nothing is better than getting the right information to the right people as soon as possible.

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